Episode 3.2 Transcript

Talkin' About Abortions with Rabbi Rachael Pass

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Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Welcome to Women Rabbis Talk! A podcast about women rabbis who are talking to other women rabbis about being women rabbis and other related things. I am one of your co-hosts, Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, and I am here with your other awesome co-host, 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Rabbi Marcy Bellows. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb:  That’s her. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: That’s me, and that’s you. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: We’re very excited about this episode. Actually, this one was a long time in coming. We’ve been thinking about this topic and talking about this topic for a long time. And we were really excited when we learned about Rabbi Rachael Pass, and her connection to this topic, because she was just the right person to talk about it in the way that we had been envisioning, and we hope that all of you will find it to be a meaningful conversation. Maybe we’ll also put the trigger warning at the top of the episode that we do share as well, just before the conversation, which is that the topic is abortion. And if that’s not a good topic for you to be spending time listening to a discussion of, feel free to skip this one, we won’t mind we probably won’t even know. Take care of yourself. Join us for the next episode. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows:  But first, we of course, want to ask each other: Hey, Emma, what are we thinking about? 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: What are we thinking about? Well, it is about to be Purim. So always with Purim comes conversations around the female characters in the Purim story and how we see them as empowering or disempowered. So we can share some thoughts on that. And then also, we have a article that came out relatively recently that we wanted to check in with one another about so where do you want to start Merce? 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Well, let’s start with Esther and Vashti. De, there’s a lot of debate online, especially this year, about whether especially liberal congregations have gone too far in glorifying and lifting up Vashti as a character. There’s this assumption that by seeing Vashti as a hero, feminist hero even, we’ve somehow diminished, Esther. So what do you think about that? 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb:  Yeah, it’s really interesting. I mean, it’s, I guess the pendulum is always swinging back and forth, right? Because Vashti has been sort of reclaimed as a hero in the Jewish feminist revival, you know, movement and revival, I guess. But that’s already, like 20 year old news, or at least in some parts of the world. And so now we’re kind of coming full circle with with maybe a generational pushback, which is interesting. I love Vashti as a hero, and I think it’s really important for us to have women who are difficult women who are heroes, you know, who are not maybe the the gentle woman hero, you know, Vashti is a hero because she is an adversarial, right? Because she says “No”, because she stands up for herself, because she is defiant. That feels really important to me. And we don’t have enough other examples of that, certainly in Jewish tradition. So I would hate to lose that. I’m also uncomfortable with the idea that we that if we’re celebrating one woman, we’re disempowering another, can we not just celebrate all the women? That leaves me uncomfortable. So I think I would push back a little bit there. And I think it’s also okay to question the character of Esther and to question whether Esther is the hero that we were sold on when we were children. Absolutely, she is a woman who is brave, who puts her her life in danger for her people. And that is heroic. And, sometimes when we read the actual text, there are things that we might notice that we might not have known in the story-book version. So even just this year, I was reading a sort of a little bit more closely the the Hebrew of the megillah, and I noticed that when Esther reveals her identity in the megillah, she never actually says, “I am a Jew”. My people are being you know, are in danger. And I am one of these people that Haman is planning to kill. The implication is that she’s a Jew, because the people that Haman is planning to kill are the Jews. But I feel like when we read the story-books, we have like a page where she’s like, “I am a Jew!” and she doesn’t actually ever use those words. And I was a little disappointed to notice that. So you know, I think yes, let’s celebrate both women. Let’s celebrate all women who do things that are heroic, brave, defiant. And let’s also recognize that both of these characters are human and flawed and may not be perfectly rounded heroines and that is also important for us to sit with. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Very much agreed. Interestingly, I find it a parallel and this is probably going on in your mind too, to Lilith and Eve – where Eve is held up as this very docile, submissive, beautiful example of what a Jewish woman should be, where she’s merely a part of Adam’s rib. And Lilith who of course, isn’t in the Torah even, and is a complete fabrication of the Rabbis based on an ooga Riddick female demon named Lillitu, but she’s created as this demonic character who dared to be considered equal, and dared to say no to Adam, or say, you know, I’m going to be on top when we have sex. So look out. So she’s held up then as the antithesis to Eve, the the beautiful, perfect Jewish partner, or hel-mate. So with Vashti and Esther, Vashti is actually in the text and the Rabbis of the Midrash were so quick to, again hold her up in a negative light, that they even state that she was antisemitic. So she’s not just the woman who dared to say no to the king, and Esther is going to work within the confines of the royal palace and all of its rules. But she’s even considered to be antisemitic, and perhaps even in favor of the killing of the Jews. You see this, especially in I believe it is the Babylonian Talmud in Megillah, 12a and b, that she is immoral and didn’t want the Jews to have any place in the kingdom either. But why? It’s because she was a strong character. And so here we are, we’re trying to embrace her. And there’s also this conflict with Esther of you know, was she trafficked? Does she even have a voice in this beyond what the men in her life choose for her? Whereas Vashti really has her own voice! And says, yeah, no, thanks. We don’t want to dance naked for you and your friends. Again, demonization of one character lifting up of the other and why can’t we just say both are okay. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah. And that it’s important to talk about these complexities. I mean, first of all, Esther is absolutely trafficked. I don’t think there’s any question about it, she is taken from her home, put in to sexual servitude. And then hooray, she won the prize and gets to be clean. But that doesn’t, you know, she didn’t like volunteer herself or her body along the way. And, you know, and similarly, Eve is born literally born into servitude, right. She is born to be a helpmate. She isn’t born free in the way that Lilith is. And I think we see that privilege right, Lilith has the privilege and Vashti who you know, maybe was was someone who, you know, we don’t know how she became the queen, but it seems like perhaps she has a different kind of privilege than even Esther when she is Queen has, you know, maybe she was born into nobility or royalty. She seems to have privilege. And I think it’s important for us to sort of, first of all, again, not to pit these women against each other and make it a competition like which woman do we want to celebrate this year, but to to celebrate them and recognize that sometimes they are heroines because of difficult the difficult circumstances that they find themselves in and not because they chose to be heroines. So that feels that feels important, but I love the juxtaposition of Lilith and Eve and Vashti and Esther. One year I wore a a Purim costume where I wore like a Persian kind of dress. Sari-type thing and and a sash that said #metoo. It must have been you know, right after the metoo resurgence and people kept saying to me, are you Vashti or are you Esther? I said like seems like I could be both like they probably had each their own metoo story so yeah, let’s let’s love them both and not pit them against each other. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows:  Exactly! And we would be remiss if we didn’t throw in a plug for our dear friend Rabbi Leah Berkowitz’s book, Queen Vashti’s Comfy Pants, which is a wonderful way to introduce your kids to Vashti’s story and the ways in which she says no and the concept of consent, through poetry and beautiful illustrations. And she says no, I will not dance for I am in my comfy pants. Yeah, girls wear your comfy pants. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb:  Comfy pants! Shifting gears to our other thing that we’re thinking about this week, we have been talking amongst ourselves, but we decided to bring this conversation to the listeners about an article that came out. Well, yeah, it’s so not actually that recently, but I think it was sort of shared around again recently and sort of came back to our attention. But the, the date in the article is actually, from last year, from last April. It’s on reformjudaism.org. But I think also has been published in other places online. It’s written by a Rabbi, Liz Hirsch. And the title is Don’t call me a Female Rabbi. So Marci, what do we think about this article? 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: This is so fascinating. And this really, I think, for you and me, having a podcast called Women Rabbis Talk, is a real challenge, I think, to us and to our guests. I don’t think she wrote this directly at us, by the way, just want to make that clear. But we have really focused on lifting up specifically women or individuals who identify as women rabbis, and the issues that are unique to being a woman rabbi, the positions, the challenges, the glories that still are quite special in being a woman rabbi. And what Liz PG Hirsch says in her article is, “as a reform rabbi, I’ve pushed for egalitarianism for a long time. This historic commitment defines my movement and my Judaism”, and she points out that it is 50 years since Rabbi Sally Presands ordination and this is of course, this Jubilee celebration this year in 2022. Since Rabbi Presand and was ordained in 1972, she says, “the time has come to banish the qualifier and treat us all as professionals on an equal egalitarian playing field.” I happen to think that still aspirational. I think we’ve seen that through many interviews, monologues, conversations that we’ve had, you can look through our whole catalogue so far of our first two seasons, and entering now our third season and see that we’re not there yet. That’s at least how I’m feeling. What about you? 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, I think you and I are coming at this from a similar place, which I mean, again, like we chose to have a podcast called Women Rabbis Talk. So that’s probably not surprising. But it seems to me like part of what Liz is saying is that even though these things are part of the history of the movement, she doesn’t want them to be like markers of her personal rabbinate that I think is absolutely a valid choice. I think it is 100% valid for a particular rabbi to say there are things that I want to be a focus of my rabbinate. And there are things that I don’t want to be a focus of my rabbinate. And that one of the things that I don’t want to be a focus of my rabbinate is my gender. Absolutely. I support any any rabbi who wants to define their rabbinate in those ways, I think it’s really important for all of us to have definition around our rabbinates and where we’re where we’re coming from. But I think in terms of it, it feels a bit like women who do want that to be part of their rabbinate or who aren’t there yet, in the way that you’re talking about Marci. That we’re being called out a little bit that that it’s sort of saying like all of us need to not have this be part of our rabbinate. And that’s the part of the article that sits uncomfortably, where she’s sort of making it a call to all women rabbis to share her perspective. I think part of why it’s uncomfortable for me is because – and I would not have felt this way 10 years ago. So I want to own that I’m coming from the place that I’m about to critique. There are many parts of this article that sort of smacked of smack of privilege, to me, and it’s not Rabbi Hirsch’s privilege specifically. And actually, she mentioned that she in her congregation, she is the first woman or the first full time woman, but but it is new in her community to be led by a woman rabbi. So her community doesn’t necessarily have the privilege that I’m talking about. But when she’s talking about the movement and the 50 year history, and in terms of the generation of women rabbis, that she and you and I are all part of, we in North America have this privilege right, that we’re born into born into, we’re ordained into many generations of women rabbis who have come before us who fought some of the fights, who broke some of the ceilings for us, taught congregations how to negotiate contracts with women and how to include maternity leave and equal pay and all that these things and some of these things, we’re still fighting for we and some of these things. And some of these things have been fought for us by the generations of women rabbis, in between Rabbi Sally Presand and ourselves. As a rabbinical student, and as in my early years of being a rabbi, I definitely was part of that privilege and not necessarily aware of it. But now I work in a part of the world that doesn’t share that history, where that privilege is not existent. I am the first woman rabbi in my city and one of only two in my country, and I’m breaking the ceilings, right? We’re we’re breaking the ceilings Rabbi Julia and I. And some, there was some work that was done before us by other women leaders in the community. And I definitely we’re definitely standing on the shoulders of people who came before us. But But those people were not full-time women rabbis in our communities. And so, so this article, to me feels very, like rooted in American privilege and doesn’t acknowledge that. And I think if that was acknowledged, it would come across really differently. But there are lots of parts of the Jewish world where this just isn’t the case where women rabbis are still a newer thing. And, and where it very much is, and needs to be a part of the rabbinate of those rabbis. I mean, I often think about when I’m here that whether I want to be or not everything that I do here is radical, like, literally my existence, just my existence here is radical. I think that’s awesome. That’s part of why I came here. But I cannot say please allow me to separate out the fact that I am a woman from my rabbinate, it is in this place, it is my whole rabbinate. Not my whole rabbinate, but it’s a really big part of my rabbinate. And even if I didn’t want it to be it would be anyway, just because of the nature and the history of where I am. So I think, great, it’s great for women who have that privilege who want to design their rabbinate about something other than their gender, it’s great for them to do that. But I don’t like being sort of called out as if I’m somehow stuck in the past. And again, I don’t think Liz is calling me out directly, but it feels it lands uncomfortably for me where I am in the world and in the history of the part of the Jewish world that I’m in. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: What a great point. Even even within America, there are so many communities that have yet to have a woman rabbi. And there are so many other religious traditions that are yet to have women, clergy, or women leadership even. So I have found even if it’s not that much of a shock in, in my specific congregation that I’m a woman in the churches nearby, they enjoy inviting me as a woman clergy member, to speak or to talk about Judaism from a woman’s point of view, because to them that is still noteworthy and unique, and, you know, remarkable. We do whether we like it or not, we can’t yet dismiss it as unimportant. Or say that, you know, I just want to be equal to everybody else. That’s great. Yes, of course, that’s the goal. I don’t think America is there yet. I think if we were, things would be very different in our country in general, things would be different around the world if we were all there. And part of what I think you and I have really tried to do with our podcast is to elevate voices and experiences that Joe-Schmo Jane-Schmain congregant, haven’t had a chance to ever hear about those stories aren’t all known and heard yet. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: I’d like to introduce us to the rabbinic version of Joe Schmo, which is Ploni ben Ploni, and also invite us to sometimes refer to Plonina bat Plonina instead of Joe Schmo. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: I like that. Plonit. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: But But Marci, I think, absolutely. And it sounds to me, like part of what Liz is is frustrated with is what you’re talking about, that others choose to cast her in the role of female ambassador. And that’s not a role that she would feels is is necessary or wants for herself. And I think there are lots of women who share in lots of women in in professional roles that used to be occupied by men who share that frustration. And, I also feel like we can choose to be stuck in that frustration, or we can choose to see it as a really beautiful opportunity to to help move us to that hope of a future where we don’t need that kind of ambassadorship. Yeah. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Well said! 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: that’s what I’m thinking about. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: As you can see, friends, we have a lot on our minds, and it’s okay because that’s what we do here at Women Rabbis Talk. And so stay tuned. We Have an amazing interview and conversation with Rabbi Rachael Pass about abortions and about rabbis who have abortions (BREAK) 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: So welcome back. We are so excited for today’s episode because we are welcoming a very special guest Rabbi Rachael Pass Rabbi Rachael Pass is the Associate Rabbi and the Head of spiritual counseling at the T’shuvah Center, a home and community for Jews in recovery from addiction of all kinds. She comes to us as a recent ordainee from Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and in NEJS, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, which was the exact same thing that I majored in minored in at Brandeis University, go Judges! She has written extensively on Jewish views of abortion, creative Jewish rituals, including reclaiming the mikvah, the ritual bath, and feminist Jewish thought and theology. Rachael is passionate about intersectional feminism and Jewish ritual. We are just so excited to have you on the show today, Rabbi Rachael Pass. So throughout the show today, what would you like us to call you? What do you prefer to be called and why? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: My name is Rachael, I use she/her pronouns. And honestly, I prefer to be called Rachael, in some settings, I’ll go by Rabbi Pass, because I think that we should all have equal authority regardless of like when we were ordained, what our gender presentation is, how we look, whatever. But here you can call me Rachael. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: that sounds fantastic. Tell us your story. How did you choose to become a rabbi? Why? What was that whole process like for you? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Yeah, we’re gonna get deep really quickly. I decided to become a rabbi when I was 13 years old. I’m one of those I grew up in the Reform Movement, going to GoldmanUnion Camp Institute and NFTY, but the thing that really did it for me is when I was about 10 years old, my stepmom who had been married to my dad, since I was two was diagnosed with breast cancer. And when I was 13, she died. And she was Catholic. And I watched as she got sicker and sicker, she got more and more into her church, she would go to Bible studies, she would go to Mass like all the time, she would call her priest, and I mimicked her by going to temple. And I really, it was around the time of like, preparing for my bat mitzvah. So I like got really into it. And I really connected with a lot of my rabbis, but I really connected with one specific rabbi. Her name is Nadia Certsky Rabbi, Nadia Certsky. And she walked me through my grieving process and like, taught me how to handle this really big, horrible thing happening in my life. And so I decided to become a rabbi, because I wanted to do for somebody else, what she had done for me. And like, of course, I grew up and I went through, like, No, I’m not going to be a rabbi, like, I’m gonna be a therapist, no I’m going to be an art historian, no I’m going to be an astronaut, like, whatever. But I sort of always came back to this, like, essential caring for other people. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Yeah, you had this calling to be a helping person. It was just a matter of where it was gonna manifest. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Yeah. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Wow. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: probably not as an astronaut. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: But you never know. It’s never too late. I don’t know. Maybe it gets a bit too late. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: It might be. No, but I mean, it’s beautiful. When the experiences of our life, you know, even the painful, hardest ones point us in the direction of what we’re meant to be doing. That’s a beautiful thing. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I mean, if you were to ask me, like, what I think the role of the rabbi is, when it comes down to it, it’s just like being with people in all of their times. I think today, probably, especially in their hard times. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, for sure. We are all in it right now. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: And so since you were ordained, can you tell us about how you’ve been spending your time rabbinically? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Yeah, so I am the, as you said, Associate Rabbi, even though we’re not supposed to have the title Associate yet, but whatever, at the T’shuvah Center, working with Jews in recovery. So a lot of what I do is one on one spiritual counseling with people, we work with people in all stages of recovery. So I have people who are still in active addiction, people who are in early recovery, people who have been in recovery for years and years and are enhancing their Jewish path. And I’m also about to be starting part time Masters at JTS, the Jewish Theological Seminary, in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies, you sort of found your perfect match here. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: I see future episodes with you, Rachel. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Yes, we will have to bring you back to learn more about that along the way. So that’s incredible. So you’ve been at T’shuvah Center now how long? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I started in January as an intern I was ordained in May. So when I say recent ordinand I mean, recent ordinand and I never want to leave I really love this work. People in Recovery are 100% of us people. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: That’s so important to hear and to say, and Mazel Tov, and we’re really excited that you’re a colleague and we have so much to learn from you obviously, already. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, welcome! 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: I think that will move us right into our topic of the day. And the reason that we reached out to speak with you, which is the topic of abortion. I say that in a cheerful voice, but it’s a it’s a tough conversation for many people, difficult on lots of levels. So first, I just want to share with our listeners, that if this is a topic that is difficult for you, you don’t have to stay with us. We want you to take care of yourself. And if you need to skip this episode, and join us for the next one, absolutely do what you need to do, and we understand. But if you feel okay to continue with us, we’re gonna move into that conversation with Rachael now. So Rachael, I wonder if you can just lead us in a little bit of a review for our listeners about Jewish ideas relating to abortion and reproductive choice, and then we’ll talk a little bit about how that topic connects specifically to you and why we invited you to be in this conversation with us today. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Do you want me to start with the with some text? Do you want me to just – 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: it’s always beautiful to start with Torah, go for it. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: There’s a lot about abortion and pregnancy loss and choice in our text. Okay, so we’re gonna start with a text from Exodus 21, verse 22, which is basically the foundational texts that any Jewish conversation on abortion always comes back to. I’m gonna read it in English for us: “When men fight and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according to as the woman’s husband may exact from him the payment to be based on reckoning or negotiating.” So this text starts with a lot of assumptions. First of all, that it’s men fighting that the pregnant person must be a woman and must have a husband. And that this even though we’re talking about abortion, like this is an accident, right? Like two people or multiple people are fighting and then the pregnant person gets pushed and has a miscarriage. And in this text, we have we see like very clearly that the pregnant person is identified as differently from the fetus that is miscarried. So the pregnant person, like if she had been killed, we have in an earlier text, that there’s life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for to tooth, you know, that lovely, horrible sentiment, but if it’s a miscarriage, she’s just fined, for the loss of the fetus is considered like a payment is like a loss of value to the family. And so this is what sort of sets up any further Jewish conversation on abortion, is that the woman is considered a nefesh, a life, whereas, or a soul or a person, whereas the fetus is considered of monetary value, probably because in the time of the Torah, any child would be put to work on a farm or in a family business and would then therefore be of monetary value. So that’s where the conversation starts. And then we jump to basically every discussion then picks up like what does it mean that the woman is a Nefesh and the fetus is something else? And so we have in the Mishnah, in Ohollot 7:6, we have our first sort of real look at abortion about an intentional ending of a pregnancy. Again, all of the assumptions on gender here are pre our knowledge of gender fluidity and flexibility. “If a woman suffers hard labor, the fetus is cut up in her womb, taken out limb by limb for her life – chayeicha – comes before its life, chaiv. If the majority of it has already come out, it must not be touched for the claim of one life, of one nefesh, cannot supersede that of another life, another nefesh. So, here we have an instruction, that if a woman is suffering a hard labor and it does not clarify what what that means, it just says “mikashe lay’led”, difficult to give birth, then the fetus is cut up in her womb, then the fetus is aborted and taken out limb by limb because in this they are each given the status of of chai, of life. Chayeicha, her life, comes before it’s chayav, but if the majority of the fetus has already come out, like if the labor is happening and most of the fetus is out of the vagina, it is then considered a Nefesh because it is then considered the same status as her, and one nefesh cannot supersede another Nefesh. This is an incredible and very religiously liberal understanding of abortion is that her life supersedes its life her life always comes before its life. This text becomes if you were to ask like a random person on the street like what do you think a Jewish view of abortion is they would say oh something about the mother’s life something about the pregnant person’s life and this is where that comes from. It gets taken. And of course there there are different texts in different rabbis throughout the centuries as with literally every other Jewish any topic ever. That’s a different and opposing things, right. There’s like no one Jewish answer to anything. But we do have in 1913 a really, really cool response. Rabbi gets written a letter asking a question about a very specific person, but then they sort of make a judgment which can apply to anybody sort of in that situation. And this rabbi’s name is Mordecai Winkler. And he gets asked a question about a mother’s need and her mental health. And he looks at what does it mean to suffer hard labor? And he looks at another few texts that talk about like, “Surech Emo”, like the need of the mother. So like, what is her needs? And so if she’s physically at risk, you can, as it says in the Mishna, oh, like, if she’s physically at risk, you can abort. And he responds, this is a direct quote, “because mental health risk has been considered to be akin to physical health risk, this woman could be permitted to abort in the event that she became pregnant”, as in, if her mental health is threatened by the pregnancy in any way, and she gets to assess what that means, which is really cool that she gets to assess what that means, an abortion is permitted. I do still think that it’s pretty trumped up. I’ll say, to keep the swear words to a minimum, that we have to seek permission from a man rabbi. It’s a really, really cool liberal texting, like, mental health is important and like, a woman gets to decide, or a pregnant person gets to decide about their body based on their physical or mental health, but like, does it really have to be a danger to someone’s physical or mental health? Do we really need a man rabbi to say like, you are allowed to do it? 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Although for its time, like 1913, right? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: no, totally for it’s time. I mean, think about Mishna Ohollot, that’s like what second century saying like her life comes before his?When we think about what’s the religious view on abortion, we always think like, what Catholicism says, which is like, no abortion, it is sin, it is evil, it is murder. I mean, there’s literally like a billboard on my corner – yours too? your face! like a billboard on my corner that’s like, like says like X amount of babies are murdered every year by abortion. There we have very early like Christianity, pre Christian theology, or pre current Catholic theology, I would say, saying, her life comes before his. The pregnant person gets to make the decision about their body. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows:  Two things that have always really concerned me about this. The first is that we don’t do a good enough job of raising up our own voices as to what Jewish law says of saying like here is an equally valid religious teaching and law about the permission to have an abortion. So we don’t, we’re not loud enough in the public square. That’s number one. And number two is looking out for ourselves when we choose to continue a pregnancy. And we go into a hospital making sure that this belief is clear to our doctors. That was very important to me when I gave birth to my son was, please understand that my religious belief says that my life comes first. And there are plenty of hospitals that won’t make that choice and you have to like put it into your birth plan and make sure it is known widely. So these are these are important teachings that are so relevant in every moment of today’s life. So thank you for reviewing these. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: What else should we know about this? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I would say the the thing that I’ll that I really stick with myself is Rabbi Hara person, the Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. So right, the CCAR, I used to work for them. I was the rabbinic intern for the taskforce on the experience of women in the Rabbinate. But still sometimes it’s just like the “c-car” in my mind and say, doesn’t really stand for anything. Anyway you know, Rabbi Hara Person wrote an article a few years ago and she uses a text from Deuteronomy – u’vecharta v’chayim – choose life, which is amazing because that gets used so often by right wing fundamentalists as like, a reason to be anti-abortion, but she uses u’vecharta v’chayim, choose life, as like choosing your own life, and that your own life is what matters. And because we can look at these texts from Exodus from Y’vamot, from Ohollot, like all of these different texts in which, in which the pregnant person is characterized as like a Nefesh, like some sort of full life where it’s the fetus isn’t, that when we say u’vecharta v’chayim, choose life, you’ve got to choose your own. If I were to take one teaching out of all of this, I would I would take chayeicha ka-min l’chayav, like the pregnant person’s life comes before that of the fetus. And u’vecharta v’chayim, like we have to choose life. or u’vechart v’chayim, like I would, I would turn it into feminine language, u’vechar-teh, I think is the standard non-binary Hebrew language right now. To choose the life of, of the fully formed person who can make decisions for themselves in their bodies. Rabbi Emma Gottlieb So important to add those teachings into the mix and especially in the way in which you are offering them so thank you so much Rachael. We would love to hear and understand a little bit more about your own personal connection to this topic, how you became such an expert in these texts, why you have put yourself forward as an advocate of this topic and these teachings? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: When I was in my second year of rabbinical school, it was maybe two months into living in New York City. I got pregnant by accident, did not intend to. I went through a process of about, I would say about six weeks, seven weeks, of deciding what to do. I chose to have an abortion. And I was very blessed to have access, the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood of New York City is like four blocks away from the HUC campus in New York. I had health insurance, which covered most of the cost. And I really, as a white femme-presenting woman had very few obstacles to getting an abortion. And even actually, I think this is important to note the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood has a grant that covers abortion for anyone who doesn’t have health insurance, which I think is important and amazing. So I chose to have an abortion I had a medical abortion. About five minutes after I took that first pill – a medical abortion works, you take one pill in the office with the doctor, current oppressive Federal law says that the doctor has to watch you take the pill, you can’t just take this pill like I take my Zyrtec every morning for my allergies. And then 24 hours later, you take four pills, which you fold into the four corners of your mouth for half an hour. And that’s what expels the fetus. And about five minutes after I took that first pill I was I was like smacked in the face with all of these anti-abortion, religious thoughts, teachings that have just like seeped their way into me. And so I spent the next year or two years really unlearning a lot of this really harmful rhetoric that I didn’t think I believed. I mean, I grew up my mom was a sex-educator for Planned Parenthood. My grandmother was a donor and like a big supporter of Planned Parenthood, and like my grandmother even – I’ll get to this when I talk about my rabbinic thesis – but my grandmother even wrote a PhD thesis on the language and rhetoric of Roe v. Wade when it first came out. I know my grandmother’s really cool. So like I grew up in such a pro-choice family, like I knew this is what Jews believed. I had learned some of these texts in, in religious school. And still, as I was walking to and from Planned Parenthood, I was having all these thoughts like, oh my god, I just sinned. I just did this horrible offense against God. And so when I chose to tell my story publicly, because I did, I wrote an article for 929, which is an Israeli Tanakh commentary project, I wrote an article about my abortion and I wrote specifically about what it was like to encounter all of these really really horrible thoughts in my own mind, but I didn’t know I had. And I did a few weeks after my abortion I went to the mikvah with Immerse NYC which is a liberal mikvah here in New York, it’s now associated with the Marlene Meyerson JCC. Doing that ritual was extraordinarily helpful and like feeling like I was reclaiming, like, this is my choice. This is my body. This is right for me, and doing it in a in a Jewish setting. Right? I was in my second year of rabbinical school at the time. But I really I decided to share it publicly because if I, a very educated, very liberal, very pro-choice woman with so few obstacles to abortion had such a reaction to my own, then there are other people out there who are having it so much worse. And so if I can share it in some way, honestly, the real shit of it all, then there is space for other people to be like, oh, yeah, I’ve had hard experiences too, or like, oh, yeah, I had an abortion. It was great. It took 20 minutes. You know, there’s all of all of these experiences that then can be recognized and brought into the fold of feminist Jewish lived experience. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: And not just feminist and Jewish, but also rabbinic, that you chose to share your story not just as a Jewish woman, but as someone who was becoming a rabbi, I’m assuming going to be a rabbi. That adds its own layer of complexity and awesomeness and challenge. Marci and I, oh, you know, one of the things that we do with this podcast is, you know, what do women rabbis talk about? And something that we have been asking each other and have been thinking about different ways of of bringing it into the podcast and in many ways this episode is the first of of what I hope will be many, is this question of what do women rabbis not talk about? You know, and I think one of the answers is their own experiences of abortion. It can be really challenging for women who are rabbis who’ve had abortions at different points in their lives for many different reasons, to share those stories because of the stigma, because of how it might impact their relationship with their community, their job, all these fears around it. And so when you shared your article I was I was really moved and excited and hopeful that it would be the beginning of other women rabbis sharing their stories. And so I wonder if you can talk a little bit about that. Was that something that you thought about? How, what was the response like to your article, both as a, you know, from the angle of Jewish women and feminism, but also from this angle of, you know, your pre rabbinic sort of period of life? And, yeah, tell us tell us sort of that side of things. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I had been thinking about writing the article for a long time before I actually wrote it. And for a long time, before I sent it in to be published and shared, I did have it, I think it was published on a Sunday. And I was meeting with Rabbi Lisa Grant, who’s the like, at the time, she was the Director of the Rabbinical School of New York, she now has a different, better title. I had a meeting with her about something else. And I was like, at the very end of the meeting, I was like, Hey, can I ask you a question? Like, I’ve already sent this out to be published? And now I’m freaking out about it. Like am I never gonna get a job again. And she looked at me and she’s like, Rachael, you are the most outspoken, somewhat brash, like feminist raging, there’s no way that this is going to be what hurts you. My writing this article was like a way of – and writing this article when I was still a rabbinical student, like I was in fourth year, so I still had a year plus before coming into a rabbinate and going through job search. And it was sort of a way of being like, you know, this is me, this is what I stand for. I don’t think that I would succeed working in a community that couldn’t, that couldn’t tolerate this, that couldn’t read this and see the real human experience in it. I mean, I wrote it for 929, I wrote it for a very Jewish Publication. I don’t know if they would call themselves a publication, but a very Jewish website. And I wrote it, I mean, I wrote it about its verse 1:4 in Jeremiah, which is used often, like u’vecharta v’chayim, in anti-abortion rhetoric. It’s “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”. Speaking of billboards, this was on like a huge yellow billboard on the drive between my mom and dad’s house when I was a child, and I would be going back and forth. And I would see this billboard all the time. And like, every once in a while, my mom would be like, that’s not what we believe. And like, it would be like, that’s not us. But like, it still really seeped into me. And so, I wrote, I wrote it about that. And I shared it. I mean, I wrote it for 929, which probably a lot of rabbis would have read, but like not, it’s not like the most widespread website, right. Like, I didn’t write it for like the New York Times. And I chose to share it on my Facebook where – and like, share it publicly – so where a lot of people would see it. The reception was amazing, actually, like I had not a single negative response. And maybe there were negative responses that that people didn’t say anything to me. I think people really saw like, Oh, this is a human who has complex human decisions to make in her life. She thought about it both as a white liberal 20-something with like a lot of privilege, and she thought about it as a rabbinical student, with real care and attention to my own Jewish practice. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I mean talk about rabbinically, like this really then altered my rabbinic career. I ended up writing my rabbinic thesis on creative Jewish rituals around abortion, their theologies and their ideologies. What is on the surface, which for most of them on the surface is like a very liberal perspective. But what’s like written underneath that is there’s still a lot of rhetoric that’s like, ‘Oh, and this is not a sin’, which often is like, ‘oh, okay, so you’re assuming that I assumed this was a sin’. Or a lot of the rituals use elements of tashlich, of the Yom Kippur practice where you like, throw bread into the water, throwing out all your sins. Tashlich is like such a cool idea, right? You’re like getting rid of something probably unwanted, maybe unwanted. And then you think underneath and was like, Oh, wait. Tashlich is about getting rid of my sins? Like, is this a sin that I’m getting rid of? Like, is this what is on top of this? Like, do I need to go repent for this? Part of what you’re doing on tashlich is repenting for those things. Am I repenting for the pregnancy? Am I repenting for the abortion? And simultaneously the ritual that I did used tashlich and it was life changing. I like walked into the water. And I read these excerpts it was written by Rabbi Tamara Duvdivani, an Israeli rabbi, and like, I came out of that water and I felt different. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: I love your quote in your article, which people can find if they Google 929 with your name – you write, “how much easier a necessary decision like mine would have been for unknowable numbers of Jews with uteruses had the religious rhetoric on abortion not been co-opted by anti-choice voices.” And that just sounds like such a call to Jewish leaders of all kinds, but especially rabbis, to do a better job on not infusing the teachings on abortion with a sense of sinner transgression, but really talking about it as a choice. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb:  And we will also post the link to that article in our show notes. One of the reasons that I hope that this will be you know, that other women rabbis and and rabbinical students and men, but in a different way, I guess, will follow your your example and the example that we’re trying to add to this podcast episode, you know, is the importance of women in our communities knowing that there that there are rabbis who have shared these experiences, and who aren’t just teaching texts and preaching text, but who are living with the same – like you were saying Rachael – the same human complications and the same choices and the same emotional consequences of those choices, and journeys through those decisions – how powerful – it is a totally different conversation, to sit down with a person and say, ‘here’s what Judaism says, here’s a text here’s a text, here’s a text’, and to be able to add your own text and your own experience. I think that that piece is missing in the Jewish feminist conversation of abortion and we are beginning to add it. That’s so important and I just thank you for leading the way. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Rachael, we’ve heard you mention your thesis a few times today. And we would love to hear more about your thesis about the rituals that you explored and even experienced in your own life. And what the takeaways were for you. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: When I wrote my thesis, there were eight available, easily available published rituals on – all of them were for Jewish women who had had abortions, and most of them assumed that it was either a Jewish woman, or a Jewish woman in a heterosexual couple. Some of them were not, did not make such an assumption, but all of them assume Jewish woman, which in itself is problematic, right? There are people of all genders can become pregnant and choose to end the pregnancy. But there were eight easily available rituals, a few on ritual, well, a few published in books, and I went through them very systematically looked at their, why it was required to access – why so a lot of them were, required a mikvah, or required, like, ability to plant and grow something. There were a couple that had like plant a tree or like grow, as if choosing not to grow something in one’s body means that like, oh, I still feel like I must grow something else somewhere. Like a replacement growth. And I looked at, like I said, their theology and the different assumptions they made. It was really cool to see like how much was available, and also like how little was available, right? If you think about, like, how many versions of rituals there are for like a baby naming, right? It’s probably like infinite. If you were to go online and google like Jewish baby naming ritual, I bet there would be like seven pages of like relevant Google search. But when you do that for Jewish abortion, there were eight, which made it pretty easy to write a thesis about, right like that’s a pretty small scope. There soon will be two more published in the new Reform Movement, rabbis manual supplement, called B’chol Z’man V’eit, one of which I wrote. Yeah, I mean, these specials really run the gamut, like some of them are like a blessing you say going into a surgical abortion, or on your own, some of which are really elaborate. There was one that included a mikvah and a tree planting and a footwashing. They sort of run the theological gamut of God is man in the sky, who is permitting me to do this, versus Goddess is the Shahina, like, comes from my body, and I bleed her into life, which I like, say sort of joking, but actually, I think is really cool. I really believe that Jewish ritual is kind of like the lay Jew encounters their Judaism, I mean, even if it is going to a weekly Torah study, like even if it is reading texts that is still ritualized in itself, you get your coffee on the way there, you share bagels, you show everybody on Zoom, what you’re eating, you go with the same people, you do it the same format. So I really think ritual is the way that we legitimize things in Judaism, is the way we communicate in Judaism. And so to have Jewish rituals around abortion, really communicate this is something that happens in people’s lives. It’s important, it’s relevant, and we can mark it either with the celebration for people who are glad of their abortion, or with a mourning for people who are not, or a million things in between for people like me, who had a million things in between. And I will also just do a nod to my grandmother. In this I mentioned her earlier, she was a very formidable woman, she the story was always that she had two PhDs, one in English literature and one in English language, Rhetoric and Writing. It turns out she was never awarded the second PhD because her thesis was on the topic of the language and rhetoric of Roe v. Wade, and how, I have her perspectives. I have three different versions of her perspectives, perspect-i? Perspect-oes? Perspectaroos? in which she she writes about how the language of Roe v Wade deals with the wrong question. The language could have been written in a much less ambiguous, much more, in a much stronger way to keep abortion legal. She was writing it for the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Kentucky’s English Department. The board was made up of three men and one woman and the woman was very very Conservative. My guess is looking back on this probably had to sort of dig her heels in to get herself authority and legitimacy in her department. But they turned down all three perspectives as she was never awarded that PhD because she was writing about abortion and so in getting to write in my very different worlds about Jewish abortion, it’s a different version of b’chol dor Vador, in each generation we have the struggles. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: I think the undercurrent here that we just need to speak out loud is the idea of religious freedom and what that means in our country, of America specifically. The fact that religious freedom and freedoms lead to laws that don’t reflect freedoms for other religions. And so if states were actually looking at what religions other than fundamental Christianity believe about abortion, and the right to choose, reproductive justice would look very different in America. If in a state where the abortion laws have become more and more restrictive, almost to the point where they are impossible or really have become impossible. Where is the argument for religious freedom? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: So I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, so did my mother and my grandparents moved to Kentucky because the University of Louisville medical school didn’t have a quota on Jews, and so my grandfather went to medical school, was the head of the department of surgery there. Kentucky now has one abortion clinic left in the entire state. It’s in Louisville. It’s called EMW clinic. There are protesters outside all the time trying to shut down this clinic but Kentucky is trying to make it legal that there are no other clinics, and that there are no other places to access abortion in the entire state. And local is not a central city in the state. It is a far drive if you’re coming from other certain parts of the state. Speaking of that us women in my family, but my mom is actually a state senator in Kentucky she recently -Yeah, I see both of your faces light up – she won a special election in July 2020, and June 2020, and she flipped a Republican seat blue for the first time in my entire lifetime. I’m 30 years old. So that was really, really cool. And one of the things that she is constantly battling in the Senate is religious rhetoric. She’s, I think, currently the only Jew in the State Senate. She’s the first woman doctor in the state senate, first Jewish woman doctor, for sure. She’s constantly fighting this battle of religious freedom doesn’t mean the religious freedom of the majority religion, it actually means the religious freedom of the minority religions of the of, it’s a protection for Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists, it’s it means the religious is freedoms is like so so plural, if we restrict abortion action access, that’s actually an infringement on my Jewish religious freedom. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: So Rachael, we have in every episode an Ask The Rabbi question. This one was sent in from Molly Koppelman. And the question, believe it or not is, does Judaism allow, quote unquote, religious exemptions, end quote, from vaccinations? I certainly know my answer on this and what I’ve, what I understand about it, but do you want to? You want to start us off? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: You want me to start us off? 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: You’re welcome to! What are your thoughts on it? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I think I would go back to something I said earlier, which is there’s no one thing that Judaism says. And I would also go back to something earlier that I said about, like, who gets to decide what is allowed and not allowed? I mean, I do think that we all have sovereignty over our own bodies. And I, I have a lot of Jewish texts to back that up that we’ve talked about today. And simultaneously, I think, probably the main, like, if you were to ask me the question that Hillel and Shammai got asked to like Torah on one foot, I would say is that like, we are an interconnected, interdependent community, and we are obligated to care for ourselves and for others. And so I would say, No, there isn’t a religious exemption from a vaccination because our ultimate religious call is to care for for others and ourselves together. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, I think so much else related to our decision making in this pandemic, pikuach nefesh, for me is what comes first and foremost, the Jewish value of saving and protecting life above everything else. So for me, it goes to sort of context and intention that there may have been times where there were religious exemptions for vaccination, or there may be certain vaccines where the risk to public health is less, and other vaccines where the risk is more – the risks to public health, if you’re not vaccinated is more so, you know, I think like you were saying, Rachael, there’s not just one answer, necessarily, that would answer this question for all different kinds of vaccinations, you know? When the stakes are as high as they are now, and when public health is at risk, and I think the way that you said it, in terms of the sort of interconnectedness of all of us is so undeniable, it feels like pikuach nefesh is more important than any previous precedent of religious exemption for vaccination in such a case. What about you Marci? 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: I have been asked to occasionally write a letter of religious exemption for vaccines, which I always deny. I don’t believe that Jewish values and ethics and our responsibility to one another, allows room for us to make decisions that harm others for very scientifically proven non-reasons. Oh, gosh, that is not good English at all. Basically, science has shown that these vaccines work that when we don’t take them, these terrible diseases, and infections come back. Hence the measles and mumps outbreaks that have happened over recent years. We’re seeing very clear scientific evidence that the Coronavirus vaccine is working. It may not be perfect. None are, but those who are unvaccinated, we keep hearing these stories again and again from people on their deathbed saying, I can’t believe I didn’t get the vaccine. I should have gotten the vaccine. I’m so sorry I didn’t. We hear about the super spreader events amongst vaccinated people. There are responsa there are legal rulings or guidelines from every movement in Judaism saying that it is a religious obligation to get the COVID-19 vaccination. It’s likened often to building a parapet on your roof, that you have to take certain measures in your home in your life to protect others. So if you have a roof and people are hanging out, and you didn’t put a fence around that roof and somebody falls off, it’s your fault because you didn’t make your home safe enough and likewise with our own lives, we have to take appropriate measures to make sure that we care about the lives of people around us. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: So Rachael, we always end with our Questionnaire Mahair, which if you have been listening to our other episodes is a questionnaire that is sometimes we move through quickly and sometimes less quickly. Even though its title is Questionnaire Mahair, we’d love to get to know you a little bit more through these questions. If you’re ready? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I’m ready 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: great! So Rachael, who was your first woman rabbi, either in your home synagogue or that you were first aware of? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Rabbi Galia Brooks was my rabbi since I knew, and Rabbi Nadia Certsky came into our congregation a few years later, they were they were two of my four or five, seven rabbis. But they were my first two.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Wow. Tell us about a woman who inspires you, they can be Jewish or otherwise. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Because I’ve talked about them both so much, my mom and my grandmother, both women really inspired me and who, in their own ways, with their own personalities and their own interests really have pushed the world forward into a better place. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Beautiful. The next one is a fill in the blank. Being a woman rabbi is, or women rabbis are? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: badass as hell. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: And what do you think would surprise people to learn about women rabbis? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I don’t know what’s more surprising that like we eat and poop or that we’re brilliant? Which like who is asking the question? Like, who is going to be the person surprised? For some people seeing like a rabbi on the pedestal is going to be like surprised, you know, we also pick our noses. And then there’s also going to be somebody who like sees us only as our body and only as like people who give birth and only, and are going to be surprised to know that like, we’re smarter than you. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: That is a fantastic answer. Thank you. It’s gonna be tough to beat. Future guests beware. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: My younger sister used to say to me like if I were to ever start a podcast, it should be called good and shitty me. Because I believe all people are good and all people shit. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Amazing. If that didn’t surprise somebody to hear a woman Rabbi say, we are not doing our jobs right on this podcast! Rachael, what is your favorite Jewish character from a book, movie or TV show? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: 100% Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The first explicitly Jewish, explicitly queer woman on television. I think today, we would probably call her pansexual or bisexual, and I just I love witchcraft. I love Jewish witchcraft. And I really see myself in Willow. And I think her fears and dalliances into evil and good and like realizing that it’s all the same power within herself, is just like probably the most theological Jewish thing that one could teach. Like, I think that she’s just like a great text for like yetzer haRav and yetzer haTov, the good and evil inclinations in all of us and like actually, she’s just like a really fucking powerful woman. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: I think we need to count up how many people have answered Willow, because 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: a lot 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: she may be our most popular choice, and that says a lot. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: She’s she’s right up there with Rabbi Raquel, for sure. We’re still going – Jewish texts. What is a Jewish text, teaching or value that inspires you or informs your life? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Going back to my article, hazorim b’dima v’rina yiktzoru, from Psalm 137? It might be 127, numbers are hard. Those who sow in tears will reap in joy. I love it because it’s it, that’s not true. We’re all going to sow and we’re all going to be teary and we’re all going to reap we’re all going to be joyful. And it’s not like a linear projection like that. But I think it’s really powerful that it’s not like hazoreiah – it’s not like the individual sewing in tears. It’s the community. Those who sow in tears together will reap in joy together. I listened to Debbie Friedman’s (singing) “those who sow, sow and tears will reap in joy, will reap in joy.” Literally, it’s like my number one most played on Spotify, because I just put it on repeat

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, beautiful text and a beautiful song AND you get the award for singing on our podcast before we did so, well done. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Ding ding ding ding! 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Rachael, the last question in Questionnaire Mahair is: what are you thinking about these days? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I think a lot about my dog Nipsey because he’s very cute. I am really, I think a lot about the ethics of care and Jewish ethics of care. And what does it mean to be in communities of care where we really support each other, where we are obligated to each other, and how to, I really think of if I wanted to, like lay out how to have a feminist rabbinate how to live a feminist life is, is through the ethics of caring for others. Often women are are put in caring roles, and therefore, in our modern Western society, or whatever you would call it postmodern, often, therefore don’t have access to success in the way that we’ve defined success. And actually, I think that the definition of success like a white male CEO making billions of dollars and flying penis shaped rockets into space, is actually, that is a failure. That is not a success. And real success comes from from more people being caring, and more people doing the labor of care. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Oh, I really hope you write that book, because I’m really looking forward to reading it. Maybe there’s a follow up in here somewhere. Thanks so much, Rachael. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: And I want to know who’s going to build the first vagina shaped rocket for God sake? To go. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: you are! 

Rabbi Marci Bellows:  okay. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: I mean, somebody’s got to give me a lot more money than what I’ve got. But I absolutely would build a vagina shaped rocket, but I wouldn’t want to do that to the environment. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: No. It actually would hover and take care of the world and make sure everybody was just was nurtured. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: It would like ejaculate like seeds and water and fertilize to grow the Earth. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: This sounds are amazing. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Has anyone has ever talked about vaginal ejaculation on this podcast? 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: You win. All the awards. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Rachael, you have just – Yep, taking the top. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yep. Yep. We have we have said “vagina” on the podcast before. And and we talked about penile puss, and things like that before. So we’re we’re gonna have to start putting out warnings at the beginning of our podcast for people who get uncomfortable by such language. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: We thank you for it! So thank you, Rabbi, Rachael Pass. We are so honored that you have been with us today. And where can our listeners find you online if they would like to follow up with anything that you have covered today? 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: If you want to talk to me, email me at r-p-a-s-s, rpass@tshuvahcenter.org which is T-S-H-U-V-A-H C-e-n-t-e-r.org. Or you could go to rachaelpass.com. But it’s really out of date. But there is a really funny Contact Me page. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: That’s fantastic 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Thank you for sharing your expertise on a very important and challenging topic. Thank you for helping us lift up the voices and the souls of so many people who have most likely become pregnant, who have chosen abortion or been forced to choose abortion for all kinds of reasons, and to validate those choices. It’s really holy work you’re doing, so thank you so much. 

Rabbi Rachael Pass: Thank you so much for having me and for for raising up this conversation. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Thank you for listening to Women Rabbis Talk 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: We’d like to thank Seth Lindman for tech and Sound Support 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Our music is by Aviva Chernick and Jaffa Road

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Women Rabbis Talk is self edited and self produced and we hope to one day have some help with that. 

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: If you’d like to support us, please use the links in our episode notes. 

Rabbi Marci Bellows: You can also follow those links to check out all of our awesome swag and merch

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Please remember to rate review and share share share so that others can find this podcast and enjoy it too!

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Todah Rabah! 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai