The United States is a Christian majority nation. As Jews, we know a thing or two about living as a religious minority, especially amongst Christians. It has been primarily the US Constitution that has made all the difference in our experience in THIS incarnation of our minority status. In our American experience, Jews have always been at the forefront of the fight for religious liberty and birth control, and abortion rights. The issues are intertwined for us. This is why...
In all branches and denominations of Judaism, as established in ancient biblical law, life begins at birth. Period. End of story. A fetus is not a life. In the Torah, when someone causes a woman to accidentally miscarry (say leaves a hole uncovered in a field and she falls in) the liability, the penalty for disregarding her safety, is monetary compensation. This is not a case of "a life for a life". We understand this concept well in our society today because in most legal applications today a fetus is not considered life, a separate being from the person carrying it. This is why pregnant humans can't drive in a carpool lane nor can they take out life insurance for a fetus.
Judaism is not the only minority faith that defines life beginning at birth. Islam and Buddhism both have belief systems that diverge from Christianity. Both in law and in the culture we are in societal agreement about who and what constitutes a life. And yet we are battling, and have been since abortion was made legal in 1973. This is not and has never been about protecting life. The battle is about not only freedom of religion but more importantly, for all Americans, freedom FROM religion.
This battle is rooted in a calculated and determined effort by Christians (of certain denominations, many Christians are respectful of difference) to make their religious law the law of the land. This is an attempt to take rights away from citizens and it would be the first time in any of our lifetimes that rights have been taken away from citizens. America is, and will become, less and less safe and comfortable for religious minorities and especially Jews if/when Roe is overturned. If we want this land to be a place for our children and children's children to be a place called home, we need to be active today. Not tomorrow.
We should be worried. An overturning of Roe V. Wade would be a massive civilizational shift for our nation. This issue must be a priority for our community, not just to ensure our rights but the rights of all who can give birth. Especially those who already have barriers to appropriate healthcare. Now is the time, if never before in your life, to become an activist. This is our work. Our opportunity to protect the status of Jews in America for generations to come.
This Shabbat is the formal kick-off for our reproductive freedom and abortion rights activism at Kol Ami: This Friday
At 7:30 pm our Tikkun Olam Committee will make a special artistic presentation of the historic Jewish involvement in the fight for reproductive freedom.
Saturday at 1 pm we will join together at the Kirkland City Hall, 123 5th Avenue for a community protest and solidarity event for reproductive freedom. Just leaving the house, holding a sign, and standing side by side means something. It is not pointless. This is the ONLY way change happens in society. There is no movement without solidarity.