Episode 3.3 Transcript

Talkin’ About the Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice

Episode Transcripts are made possible by our sponsorships & swag purchases.
Thank you to our donors, sponsors and swag-supporters!

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb:  Welcome to Women Rabbis Talk the podcast where women rabbis talk to other women rabbis about being women rabbis. I am one of those women rabbis. My name is Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, and I’m here with my favorite and only and best co host –

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Oh my gosh, it’s Rabbi Marci Bellows. I’m so honored because you happen to be my favorite and only and best co host. So that’s really fortunate.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Imagine that. Well, Marci. We are having a very serious conversation today, although it’s us. So they’ll probably be some lightheartedness along the way. But you recently went to Washington, DC. Could you tell us a little bit about why and what you did there?

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Well, Emma, I was in Washington, DC from Sunday to Tuesday, attending the Washington Institute for the National Council of Jewish Women, an organization that I hadn’t really been involved with before. But I’ve been so impressed with a lot of the events and materials and advocacy they’ve been doing over the past few years that I really wanted to attend their conference. Even a few months ago, they were planning on holding a rally for abortion justice on Tuesday, May 17. Lo and behold, the Supreme Court leak on May 2 made that Jewish rally for abortion justice, that much more of a critical and weighty and important event. The Supreme Court leaked documents, of course, indicated a major intention of overturning Roe versus Wade, which has been the law of the land since 1973. The rally was truly incredible. So many colleagues and congregations were there. And a lot of us were shocked that we had to be there.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Yeah, the whole thing is, it’s shocking. It’s bananas. It’s ridiculous. It’s heartbreaking. It’s all the things. First of all, I had ginormous FOMO of all of you being together, marching, I was marching with you in spirit, screaming and rallying as loudly as I could from Cape Town, where this issue is not an issue. And I you and I have talked about sort of my struggles and my thinking around how to be involved in this cause, which is so dear to my heart and important to me, and hopefully most women, but clearly not enough of them. And yeah, trying to figure out this sort of balance of being involved from afar, while also knowing that for my home community this isn’t relevant as South Africa has legalized abortion back in 1997. Women are able to access abortions here up until their 12th week of pregnancy and and then after that, for certain medical conditions or reasons. It’s even free here for people who don’t have health insurance, which is kind of crazy for us North American girls to think about a country, you know, in Africa that’s not as fully developed as North American countries having better access, easier access and freer access to abortion than women in Texas or recently, Oklahoma.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Absolutely. That is part of what is so shocking. And it’s not the South Africa, America comparison. But it’s America being who we think it is, where we think we had gotten to, and watching over the last number of years, this reversal, this devolution of so many of our rights and our abilities to have equal human rights as women, people who are LGBTQ, all the injustice for people of color, and other marginalized groups. We have just watched rights erode over the last number of years, either officially or unofficially. We even see yesterday – what’s, what’s ironic, I suppose – is that yesterday, a poll was released that said 64% of Americans support Roe versus Wade. So two thirds of Americans support maintaining this as the law of the land. The consequences are staggering, and really almost impossible to imagine the ripple effects of what it would mean to make Roe versus Wade no longer legal and to make abortion no longer legal. I think we will lose so much of our workforce. I think poverty will rise greatly. So many people of course, women will be forced to carry pregnancies and give birth in situations where they wouldn’t otherwise The whole view of our society, the entire makeup of our society will shift. So this rally really allowed Jews to come together and say, if you’re speaking about religious freedom, and that is the basis for the Supreme Court’s decision is the religious freedom to say when life begins, and if it’s at conception, or even at fertilization, as some states are saying, Jews have to say very loudly, if you’re talking about religious freedom, that has to include Jews and their religious freedom to have an abortion, because not only is abortion permitted within Jewish law, but there are times when it is even required in Jewish law, particularly when the health of the mother is at great risk.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: I mean, it boggles the mind it really – dear listeners, if someone can explain to us how a person can have an abortion before fertilization, we would love to understand that more fully, because it really seems like these laws are being written and passed by people who have no scientific understanding of our bodies, or how reproduction works. It’s very disturbing.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Abortion before fertilization sounds like contraception, it sounds like a condom, it sounds like maybe Plan B, it certainly doesn’t sound like there’s any actual abortion that could possibly take place before fertilization for God’s sakes. Plus, as someone who struggled with infertility, and very successfully had my lovely child by in-vitro fertilization, there are all kinds of other issues related to what’s going to happen to embryos that are fertilized, and really the future of IVF all together.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: right. And I mean, I guess that also broadens the conversation in some ways and deepens the fear. Does that mean that the next thing to go is, you know, whatever access is still available to contraception? And, you know, and then more women are getting pregnant and not able to get abortions. And the whole thing is, is terrifying. It’s just terrifying, and heartbreaking. And I’m so proud of the women of our movement and the rabbi’s of our movement, and all of the other Jews and women of the world who are participating in fighting back, and our male allies, and our non binary allies, all the allies, all the people, I’m proud, I’m grateful. I’m with you in spirit. And we are going to have an amazing opportunity now to hear from some of the leaders of our movement, the rabbis of our movement and some of the other incredible women who you encountered while rallying in DC. So Marci, you can tell us a little more about that, and then we’ll hear from them.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Yes, it was really a profound opportunity to collect the voices of as many rabbis as I could, who were there and who could speak to why they were there. Why was it so important as a human being as a Jew, as a rabbi to be present, we have 22 Voices of various genders and various movements. We have representatives from every movement in Judaism, reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox, we have some very big names in the Jewish world as well. Some of the highlights are Rabbi Hara person who is the Chief Executive Officer of the CCAR, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, we have Rabbi Jonah Posner, who is the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. And we have Rabbi Abbey Stein, who is really just an incredible author and advocate for LGBTQ causes in the Orthodox community, and especially trans causes. As a trans woman herself. She wrote the book becoming Eve, we’re hoping to have her on as a guest in the near future as well to hear more of her story and so many other incredible colleagues have spoken. And I hope that this collection of recordings that you’re about to hear will uplift your spirit. I think so many of us are so scared and lost in despair, even of what could come. And when you feel that way, I encourage you to come back to this episode. Listen to these voices of all of these Jewish leaders who you know are out there inspiring their communities, and speaking truth to power upholding Jewish values and Just come back to it and let it give you hope. Let it bring light back into the darkness

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Beautiful. I’m looking forward to hearing the voices of hope and may all of our prayers and all of our efforts bring about much needed repair and a return to sanity and progress and health and wellbeing for all and true religious freedom. Absolutely. Amen.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Amen. Hear this wonderful collection right after this

Rabbi Hara Person: This is Rabbi Hara person. I’m the Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. I’m here to say proudly that the Reform Movevent believes that abortion access is essential health care, a basic human right and a Jewish value.

Rabbi Amy Schwartzman: My name is Amy Schwartzman. I’m the rabbi at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. I’m thrilled to be here today with a large number of congregants facilitating our root connection as Jews and as congregants to pursuing the social justice we need that allows women to have access to health care. Abortion is a healthcare issue. It’s a Jewish issue. It’s an issue that we have been wrestling with for decades, and tragically are still wrestling with today. We need to bring our Jewish values to this protest, and to every small and large discussion we have about abortion. Thanks.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner: I’m Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and I’m here to march for abortion rights, which is a Jewish issue and a human rights issue.

Abby Stein: Hi, everyone, my name is Abby Stein, I use she/her pronouns. I’m here with I think two two very important messages. First and foremost, I want to center the voices of my LGBTQ cis and transgender siblings who are impacted, whether it’s trans men and binary people who literally get access to abortion, or it’s a lot of other trans people rely on reproductive care in places like Planned Parenthood, for our basic mental and physical health, as well. And I think the other very important message is that we need to focus on not just accepting and tolerating people who have abortions and people who need access to reproductive care and abortion justice, we need to learn to celebrate it because I think that is celebrating life. Celebrating who we are. Celebrating our right to choose. Celebrating our right to control our bodies is celebrating life at its core. Thank you. (background noise)

Rabbi Rachel Pass: This is Rabbi Rachel pass here at the Jewish rally for abortion justice. But it’s really amazing to be here and to say that my abortion was a blessing and my Judaism supports blessings.

Rabbi Debbie Bravo: I’m Debbie Bravo. I’m a rabbi from Long Island and I’m here because I can’t believe that we once again have to fight this fight. And it is our fight that we need to fight on behalf of all those who can’t. Rabbis need to make sure that we are leading this fight to make a difference.

Rabbi Chuck Briskin: Hi this is Rabbi Chuck Briskin. I’m here because I have to be here. And I’m here to bring my two teenage sons to show them what it means to show up when rights are threatened.

Rabbi Stacey Rigler: Rabbi Stacey Rigler. As a Jewish educator, I believe that nothing we teach is as important as how we live our lives. And I was lucky enough to be able to travel to DC today to be with so many members of our community to stand up for our values, and practice our American freedoms. Hi This is Rabbi David Windsor from Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax station, Virginia. I’m so proud to join here with the Jewish community, recognising the importance of a woman’s right to choose the opportunity to have power over our bodies, and to recognize that health care for all is so important for everyone.

Rabbi Kelly Levi: My name is Rabbi Kelly Levy, I come to this wonderful event today from Austin, Texas. And I’m here because Texas is really a challenge right now we we’ve been dealing with the restrictions and abortion ban since September and it’s been very painful and difficult for my community and for the entire state. So I’m here to say that being pro choice, and being pro abortion is what it means to be pro life. And we are here to support everybody and everybody’s choice to do what they want with their body and say it loud and proud. And make sure that that voice is heard.

Rabbi Michael Nameth: Rabbi Michael Nameth he/him/his I’m here at this rally, because my Jewish values say that we need to protect women, we need to support women, and that we need to speak out when situations like this arise. We can’t be silent. We have to be here in support as allies fighting for justice fighting for abortion rights.

Rabbi Jill Nagler: Hi, I’m Rabbi Jill Nagler from congregation, Shalom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And I’m so proud to be here, with leaders with family with three generations from my family and my spouse. All because we understand that Jewish values are women’s rights and health care rights. And we’re proud to stand with this Jewish community today.

Rabbi Jesse Olinsky: Rabbi Jesse Olinsky, South Orange New Jersey, regardless of whether or not Judaism permits, condones, supports and even obligates abortion, which he does, being pro choice means somebody shouldn’t need the approval of the rabbi to make decisions about their own bodies having a separation of religion and government separation of church and state. These people get to decide whether or not I support those decisions or not, even if I do, therefore, it needs to be louder to support them. To remind them that they don’t need my support to make decisions about themselves.

Rabbi Deborah Bennet: Hi, this is Deborah Bennett, I’m a rabbi in Long Island’s and I am here because these decisions are too important. They are too monumental to be in the hands of anyone, but the women who are making these decisions. Let’s continue that right for all women everywhere.

Rabbi Anat Katzir: Hi, my name is Rabbi Anat Katzir. I’m here from Oradell, New Jersey. And it was really important for me to come and make sure that our Jewish voices heard on this issue, and that the values that we hold are protected and celebrated in our country.

Andrew Mandel: Hi there. I’m Andrew Mandel. I’m a rabbinic intern at Northern Virginia Hebrew congregation this summer, and I’m here at the rally because abortion is healthcare, and we as Jews must respect the lives and dignity of all people.

Rabbi Liz Zeller: I’m Rabbi Liz Zeller, I’m from Long Island. And I’m here because I want people to know that my religion says that abortions are not only a right, but it is something that we should demand for all always for all time.

Rabbi Craig Axler: I’m Rabbi Craig Axler from Columbia, Maryland. And I’m here at the Jewish rally for abortion justice, because as a male cisgender Rabbi, I know that this is not a time that I can possibly sit this moment out, but that I have to use my power and my voice to join with others, asserting that abortion is a Jewish value

Rabbi Michael Holtzman: Michael Holzman, I’m a rabbi in Northern Virginia. I’m here because religious freedom means we respect people’s choices to govern their own body as created in God’s image.

Rabbi Elissa Koppel: Hi, I’m Rabbi Elissa Koppel. It’s always a pleasure to be on this podcast. So we’re here at the Jewish rally for reproductive rights. And I’m in disbelief that since high school we have been fighting this battle and that’s ludicrous. The time is now the time is always now to use our voices and make the change we need.

Rabbi Neil Shuman: Hi, I’m Rabbi Neil Shuman from Plainview New York. I’m here because I believe that women should have a right to decide their future. According to Jewish religion, life doesn’t begin at conception, and therefore person should have a right for what they want the future their life today.

Rabbi Josh Kushner: Hello, I’m Rabbi Josh Kushner and I’m here because abortion is a human right. And it’s really important to stand with our Jewish values and just stand with every single human being who needs access to reproductive health for every single human being

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Thank you so much for tuning in to women rabbis talk and we hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb; You’re always welcome to be in touch with us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenrabbistalk

Rabbi Marci Bellows: you can find us on Instagram @womenrabbispodcast, Twitter @womenrabbistalk. You can email us at womenrabbispodcast that’s womenrabbispodcast@gmail.com

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: or our website womenrabbistalk.com

Rabbi Marci Bellows: you can show your support for our podcast all over the world by picking up some very cool swag at our online merch. Store http://www.bonfire.com/store/women-rabbis-talk-swag In addition to shirts, totes, mugs and football jerseys. We just launched some awesome tied eyes.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: We welcome your feedback at all times and we’re always looking for new ask the rabbi questions.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: Thank you to John Claude Haines of C. Robin tech, and SEF Glyndon men for their tech support.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Our music is Boi Kallah by Aviva Chernick and Jaffa Road. Be sure to check them out for more amazing music.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: We are grateful to be hosted for free by anchor.fm which also makes our podcast available anywhere you like to listen to your podcasts.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review and share so that others can find us and share in the magic of women rabbis.

Rabbi Marci Bellows: All podcast editing is done ourselves. So thank you, Emma.

Rabbi Emma Gottlieb: Thank you Marci. And we’re out.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai