NCJW condemns twin terror attacks at Jerusalem bus stops

National Council of Jewish Women is deeply saddened by twin bus stop bombings in Jerusalem today, which killed a 16-year-old Canadian-Israeli boy, Aryeh Shechopek, z”l, and wounded at least 22 others. We are heartbroken by this loss of young life and pray for the speedy recovery of all victims.

These attacks are senseless acts of violence resulting in tragic bloodshed and trauma, and conjure painful memories of similar bombings in the 90s and 2000s, when hundreds of civilians were killed. We are distraught by the escalation of violence in the West Bank and Israel over recent months, leaving another generation of children and teens to reckon with this trauma.

We hope to see more compassionate rhetoric and policy from Israeli and Palestinian leaders that encourages peace and cooperation, not violence and hate. We pray for the safety and security of everyone in the region.

NCJW Statement from Sheila Katz

National Council of Jewish Women thanks our champions in the House of Representatives for once again passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would reestablish and protect access to abortion. After the devastating ruling from the Supreme Court overturning Roe, we must and will continue our work to recognize abortion as essential health care. The Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act that the House passed today takes us closer to ensuring that people have access to reproductive health care, including abortion, even if they live in states that are jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of their residents by imposing abortion bans. The Senate must pass both measures by whatever means necessary – lives are at risk. Abortion access is and always will be a Jewish value, and we are determined to keep fighting to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need and the ability to make their own decisions for themselves and their futures.

VP Harris Meets with NCJW Leaders and Other Faith Leaders

On Monday, June 6, Vice President Kamala Harris held an on-the-record roundtable in Los Angeles, California with faith leaders to discuss some of the most urgent challenges facing abortion access and reproductive rights in the United States.

National Council of Jewish Women was proud to send Claire Lipschultz, NCJW board director and NCJW California state policy advocate, and Rabbi Dara Frimmer, NCJW Rabbi for Repro and Temple Isaiah senior rabbi, to this important conversation and make it clear that abortion access is a Jewish value and banning abortion violates religious freedom.

The Supreme Court’s impending decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be released any day now, and, according to the Vice President, could “undo the very principles and premise of the importance of privacy, the right that Roe v. Wade stands for,” per last month’s leaked draft decision.

“Basically, the premise of Roe and the power of Roe is that it is about saying that people should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies — that women should have that right and have unfettered access to reproductive healthcare.” – Vice President Kamala Harris

Attending the meeting alongside the NCJW representatives named above were faith leaders from a variety of backgrounds, including Sikh, Muslim, and Christian. See the full list here.

The Vice President affirmed that faith leaders are essential partners to the Administration and that she looks forward to continuing to work with them to build coalitions across faiths.

“We want to offer you and our country a new conversation, Rabbi Frimmer said. “One that is actually representative of the majority of faith leaders and our congregants, who believe in dignity, compassion, and access to abortion.”

“Judaism not only permits abortion but, sometimes, to protect the life of the mother, our tradition commands it. This isn’t a new idea. This is from the Torah and the Talmud, sacred scripture, thousands of years old, which continue to inform us and guide us in our modern day lives, helping us to practice our Jewish faith and express our Jewish values.” – Rabbi Dara Frimmer

Recap: Repro Shabbat 2022

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has been working to protect the rights of women, children, and families for more than a century, and fighting for abortion, health, rights, and justice for decades. We’ve been advocating on the federal and state level, engaging and mobilizing our network of over 200,000 advocates.

Last year, we launched Repro Shabbat to both have a time to learn what our tradition teaches about reproductive freedom, and to come together as a community to talk about these issues. It seemed only natural that it would take place on Parshat Mishpatim, as this was when we read the verses that undergird Judaism’s approach to abortion — permitted and sometimes even required, if the life of the pregnant person is in danger.

This year, we welcomed Repro Shabbat just after the 49th anniversary of the landmark case Roe v. Wade. With the future of Roe hanging in the balance, it was no wonder that we saw even more of the Jewish community participate in this year’s Repro Shabbat. Communities and individuals nationwide took Repro Shabbat to explore the Jewish understanding of abortion. As Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is quoted in Alma, “It feels like people have been waiting for the chance to do this work for a Jewish lens, in a Jewish space — not just to do it and be Jewish, but to do it as a Jew.”

Repro Shabbat gave us the Jewish time we needed to recommit ourselves as a Jewish community to reproductive health, rights, and justice. Now we continue to build our Jewish movement. Take action now to urge the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. Join the 73Forward campaign to stay with us as we continue to create the next chapter in abortion access. And if you know any Jewish clergy who hasn’t joined our 1700-strong Rabbis for Repro network, this is a great time. And save the date for next year’s Repro Shabbat: February 17-18, 2023.

 

Read More Press 

Hey Alma | These Rabbis Won’t Stop Fighting for Abortion Rights

Jewish Telegraphic Agency | Jewish women are leaders on abortion rights. But they can’t do it alone.

Lilith | The Burden of Pregnancy | The Uterus Challah Recipe You’ve Been Waiting For 

Cleveland Jewish News | NCJW virtual Repro Shabbat lunch, learn features Lithwick, Hill

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle | NCJW to sponsor forums on abortion rights

NCJW Marches in DC Peace Walk to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On January 18, NCJW and other Jewish organizations united to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by marching together in the Washington, DC Peace Walk. 

It was an emotionally charged day spent in solidarity with Martin Luther King III’s family in the name of voting rights. Standing behind the banner “Jews For the Freedom to Vote,” Jewish members in the DC community and across the nation rallied together for the Freedom to Vote: J.R. Lewis Act. The bill will ensure the ability for every American to participate in safe, accessible, and transparent elections.    

In Judaism, voting is more than just a duty — it’s a mitzvah. Laws making it harder to vote most harm people of color, those with disabilities, and those struggling to make ends meet. But we know our democracy works best when it is reflective of all its people.  

Take action in honor of Dr. King by urging your senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act before it is too late for our democracy. 

NCJW Rallies at the Supreme Court for Abortion Access

Rabbi Mira Rivera, Rabbi and Board Certified Chaplain at Romemu speaks at a podium at the Abortion is Essential Rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rabbi Mira Rivera, Rabbi and Board Certified Chaplain at Romemu

On December 1st, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) leaders and advocates rallied together on the steps of the US Supreme Court to show support for abortion access. Inside, the Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging the constitutional right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions.

Some background: In 2018, Mississippi passed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy with few exceptions. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the last abortion provider in Mississippi — challenged the law, which has been on hold as it makes its way through the courts. If the Supreme Court upholds the law, then abortion will be effectively banned in Mississippi. And if Roe is overturned, 24 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. The impact of abortion restrictions and bans fall hardest on people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care: women, Black, Indigenous & other people of color, the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, and those working to make ends meet.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX)
Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX)

In Judaism, abortion is not only permitted, it’s sometimes even required. As a part of 73Forward, a Jewish movement for abortion justice, NCJW advocates gathered at the Court to raise our voices in support of abortion because of — not in spite of — our religious and moral values.

NCJW began the day by hosting an Interfaith Gathering with Catholics for Choice, featuring Rabbi Mira Rivera, Reverend Leslie Watson Wilson, Maggie Siddiqi, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA). The Interfaith Gathering provided a sacred space in which people of all religious backgrounds could join their voices to advocate for abortion access.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)

After the Interfaith Gathering, faith leaders processed to the Court, all the while chanting “People of Faith Say/Abortion Is Essential!” Once there, people of faith opened the rally, spiritually grounding both the moment and the issue.The rally, and the day’s efforts, centered Mississippi activists leading the fight to protect abortion access in their state, and across the country. Members of Congress, movement leaders, and clergy members shared stories, inspirational calls to action, and songs. NCJW CEO Sheila Katz spoke during the rally, remind us that “For too long, this country has allowed a small but loud group from the religious right to dominate the narrative around abortion and religion. Now we are reclaiming the narrative.” Watch the full livestream of the rally here and read Sheila’s full remarks at the bottom of the page.

Sheila Katz, NCJW CEO
Sheila Katz, NCJW CEO

It was an exhilarating day. An emotional day. A day to gather strength for the work ahead. While we await the Court’s decision, we will not stop fighting for equal access to abortion care. Now, more than ever, we need the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would safeguard against bans and restrictions like this Mississippi law. Take action with NCJW today by calling your Senators to tell them you support this critical legislation. Our right to abortion is essential — essential for social and economic equality, reproductive autonomy, and the right to determine our own lives and futures.


NCJW CEO Sheila Katz’ Rally Remarks

Good morning. 

My name is Sheila Katz and on behalf of the 200,000 National Council of Jewish Women advocates across the country, I’m here to say loudly that Jews support abortion access.

And Happy Hanukkah by the way. It is only fitting that we are here outside the Supreme Court during Hanukkah, a holiday about bringing light in the darkness and fighting against religious persecution. I am grateful that this country guarantees our freedom to act according to our religious beliefs.

These beliefs include our position on abortion. 

The Torah is clear on this issue. Abortion is not only permitted in Judaism, but in some cases required when the life of the pregnant person is at stake. 

Restrictive abortion laws, rooted in just one understanding of when life begins, limit our ability to fully practice our religious tradition. We should all be able to make our own healthcare decisions in alignment with our beliefs. If laws like the one being debated here today are allowed to take effect, we not only lose our constitutional right to abortion but our constitutional right to religious freedom. 

Spoiler alert: Jews have abortions. (Pause) Christians have abortions. Muslims have abortions. 

People of faith and people of no faith have abortions.

Jewish scripture mandates Kavod Habriyot, respecting human dignity. People of faith believe in compassion and dignity. People of faith support the right of every individual to access the medical care they need. 

And as a reminder, we are commanded to love thy neighbor, not sue thy neighbor.

For too long, this country has allowed a small but loud group from the religious right to dominate the narrative around abortion and religion, claiming that abortion access is a violation of religious freedom. So we ask them? Whose religious freedom are you trying to protect? 

Religious freedom in this country is meant to be a shield to protect people of minority faith communities, not a sword to discriminate against us. The Supreme Court is supposed to uphold our Constitutional rights, not tear them down. 

We must not let the goalposts get moved, we must not cede any moral ground in this fight. These are our rights. We must claim them.  

I want to close with a blessing for our work together ahead–our work to create a world where our rights are not up for debate.  

May we have the resilience to keep going even when it feels like the arc of the moral universe is taking too long to bend towards justice. 

May we always center those most impacted by abortion bans and restrictions to care.

May we create a world where nobody ever feels shamed or stigmatized for seeking or receiving abortion care. 

May we remember that WE are the majority and WE can and will shape the narrative of abortion in this country.

Amen.


Press Mentions

The Associated Press:
Religious abortion rights supporters fight for access”

The New York Times:
Not All Religious People Oppose Abortion

The Washington Post:
Why Mississippi’s anti-abortion law is also an assault on LGBTQ+ rights
Protesters at Supreme Court square off over abortion
Across the country, abortion rights supporters and opponents watched the Supreme Court arguments
As Supreme Court debates abortion, dueling theologies protest outside

The Forward:
The Supreme Court is hearing a landmark abortion case today: Here’s how 1,000 rabbis (and a few others) are responding

The Guardian:
America’s deep political divisions play out on courthouse steps as justices hear abortion case”