Local, National Jewish Organizations Speak Out On Abortion Decision

After the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States on Friday morning, several local and national organizations have released statements condemning the decision. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and we’ll be adding to this list as we receive statements.

JFCS Minneapolis/Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

The Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies finds these days to be intensely challenging ones for the United States of America.

With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturning Roe v. Wade, the Court has determined that the right to an abortion is no longer protected by the US Constitution and with this single ruling, has reversed close to 50 years that have supported the health, mental health and personal decision making of women and of families. This ruling challenges the core principles of this Country, namely the protection of privacy and freedom, including religious freedom, and personal choice, while also compromising the principles that guide Jewish human service agencies, namely the right to self-determination.

The member agencies of our Network recognize that this decision will not impact all women equally. Making abortion illegal will not end abortion; it simply will make it less safe. Women and girls living in poverty, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA communities, those living in rural or medically underserved communities and persons with disabilities will bear an even greater and unfair burden in accessing safe abortions and other reproductive healthcare services. Making abortion illegal also will most certainly exacerbate the current mental health crisis, as women who are denied abortions frequently experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and lower self-esteem. As a Network of community-based agencies that work each day to uphold the social work value of the right to self-determination, we are renewing our commitment to ensuring that all will have access to the care they need. We will work together to maintain the Jewish community’s commitment to repairing the world as we support women and their families in all communities and from all religious and ethnic backgrounds.

May we all find the strength and courage to hold true to the values that keep communities and families safe and healthy.

Paula Goldstein, Board Chair
Reuben D. Rotman, President & CEO

Temple of Aaron

We are heartbroken. We are heartbroken because as your clergy, we have sat beside you as you struggled with infertility, when the IVF cycles failed, when your loved and wanted pregnancy ended tragically. We have sat beside you when you learned that the fetus you were carrying tested positive for Tay-Sachs. We have sat beside you when you chose to end your pregnancy.

And we stand beside you today. We stand beside you in your heartbreak, your fear, and your anger. We are here for you.

As Shabbat draws to a close, we will join together in the ritual of Havdalah, creating a space to mourn, to sing, to pray, to connect, and to unite in solidarity.

Saturday June 25, 10 p.m., Minneapolis and St. Paul locations:

Adath Jeshurun Congregation 10500 Hillside Lane Minnetonka, MN

Mt. Zion Temple 1300 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

We are here for you today and always. 

For Adonai will not forsake God’s people;

God will not abandon God’s very own.

Judgment shall again accord with justice

and all the upright shall rally to it.

(Psalm 94:14-15)

Praying for a Shabbat of Justice and Peace.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel

Rabbi Marcus

Cantor/Educator Josh

Beth El Synagogue

One foundational text on the issue of abortion in Jewish law teaches that if a pregnancy endangers a pregnant woman, the pregnancy may be ended because, “her life takes precedence over his life.” (Oholot 7:6)

There is that word- life. It is the source of so much joy and pain and controversy. Today, those who are supposedly “Pro-Life” are celebrating the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade. They might correctly note that this mishna makes reference a fetus as a “life” suggesting that it be afforded certain rights. At the same time, it is davka because the passage teaches us to care first and foremost about the life of the mother, that I am so deeply troubled by today’s decision.

As Jews, we are taught to cherish life, to protect life, to celebrate life. Today’s ruling is a dangerous and disturbing set back that impinges upon that vision for it undermines the principle, “her life takes precedence.”

While only one of many important teachings on the topic, the above mishna clearly indicates that Jewish law sees abortion, in some cases, as a life-saving medical procedure. Her life, her physical and emotional life, we are told, are to determine the course of action. From a Jewish perspective, therefore, abortion should be legal and accessible.

Tomorrow in our services, we will chant a prayer announcing the new Hebrew month with the refrain “life:” “Grant us a life of physical health, a life free from shame, a life of wealth and honor, etc.” Only by advocating for reproductive rights, standing up for reproductive justice can we achieve the ultimate vision of “a life of blessing, a life of peace.”

Join our Social Justice Committee to get involved in this and other issues by contacting Aklilu Dunlap.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Alexander Davis

Shir Tikvah

Shabbat Shalom,
I write you from West Philly on Lenni Lenape Land where I traveled to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding this weekend. This morning, as word of the overturning of Roe v. Wade came out, I was with two rabbi friends. We want to offer words of Torah together, as we send our love, our rage and our wishes for hizzuk (strength).

To each of you grieving, to each of you angry, to each of you disoriented: we are with you. Our tradition is with you. Jewish law imagines a world where abortion is permitted and where the pregnant person is the one who decides when an abortion is needed. May we derive strength from each other and from the wisdom of our tradition. We each have a responsibility to hold each other through this, to offer each other strength, nourishment, compassion, tenderness, hizzuk. This decision profoundly affects our country as a whole even as it will impact each of our bodies and communities differently. As we enter Shabbat, may we recommit to caring for each other, for organizing for each other’s dignity. May we remember that we have the power to keep each other safe. As activists, as Jews, and as people who are committed to the project of community, we will move through this together.

We know that Roe could not keep us safe by itself, and yet, we have lived the last almost 50 years in this country supported by the foundation of Roe as the baseline from which we could dream. We extend solidarity and resources and love to all people who might want or need an abortion; to anyone who is caring for someone who might want or need an abortion in the future; and to folks who have had an abortion in the past who are feeling stirred up. We extend hizzuk (strength) to local politicians who will need to devote untold energy and strategy to defeating anti-abortion legislation and to care providers who will need to make courageous decisions in the time to come.

As we enter Shabbat tonight, we want to encourage each of us, as ever, to enter Shabbat. Please take seriously that we don’t enter Shabbat only on good weeks. We turn to Torah, to Shabbat, to Jewish community to help us keep growing our imaginations, to remind ourselves how to be audacious and courageous, and how to keep being brave when it feels like the floor has fallen out from beneath us. As we enter Shabbat, this is the invitation we open to you, and to each other: let us keep turning to Torah, Shabbat, and each other. Let us keep reaching, together, for the right lessons. Please trust: it’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to feel lost…but we won’t let each other stay there. We are not alone. We will resource each other.
As we enter Shabbat from West Philly, we will be thinking of you, imagining all of us embraced by a sukkah of peace, a sanctuary of wellbeing and safety. May we work for justice and open ourselves to rest.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, Shir Tikvah
Rabbi Leora Abelson, Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Jamaica Plain, Boston, Mass.
Rabbi Alana Alpert, Congregation Tchiyah, Detroit, Mich.

NCJW Minnesota

Today, the US Supreme Court ruled uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving millions of people without the health care they need. 

Denial of the right to bodily autonomy is unacceptable, plain and simple. National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota will not stop working to ensure everyone has access to the vital health care they need, when they need it, free from stigma, shame, and criminalization — no matter how long it takes.

Today we grieve. Tomorrow, we will fight on. Keep an eye out for more updates in the coming days on the action we will take together to protect the abortion rights of Minnesotans and to support those that will need to travel to our state for abortion care. In the meantime, take care of yourselves–say a prayer, explore the resources available from Jews for Abortion Justice, and mark your calendars for the opportunities below to be in community and get ready for what’s ahead. 

As NCJW Inc. CEO, Sheila Katz, shared this morning: “We will make it through this moment together. Throughout our 129-year history, NCJW has never stopped fighting for what is just and what is right. And, we won’t stop now.”

Please join on zoom with NCJW for a Virtual Vigil for Abortion Justice Friday, June 24, at 3 p.m. CDT.

We will hold space for collective outrage, for our community’s grief, for the anxiety of what’s next — for all of our emotions. Featuring NCJW CEO Sheila Katz, NCJW’s Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, and rabbinical students Koach Baruch Frazier and Arielle Korman. Open to all.

Jewish Community Action

Today’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade is outrageous and unprecedented. This ruling reverses almost 50 years of constitutional rights and protections afforded to people seeking abortions and control over their reproductive freedom.

We are devastated. We are furious. And we will fight back.

Abortion rights are fundamental to Jewish values. As our Executive Director Beth Gendler and Rabbi Avi Olitzky wrote in TC Jewfolk, in Judaism, terminating a pregnancy is not only permissible but at times required. Limiting the right to abortion would limit our right the free exercise of our religion.

It will also disproportionately impact communities who already experience barriers to health care, like those with low incomes, who are disproportionately Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

This horrendous Supreme Court Decision is the culmination of a right-wing movement that intends to replace multiracial democracy with patriarchal theocracy.

We won’t let that happen. We stand with our partners and neighbors across race, place, income, and gender to fight for a world where everyone is free to make decisions about their own bodies.

Abortion is and will remain legal in Minnesota. Our state can be a beacon of compassion, care, and personal freedom not only to our fellow Minnesotans, but also to people across the US whose rights and access to care are in peril.

Abortion funds. Abortion providers. Parents. Doulas. Lawyers. Students. Faith leaders. Activists of all stripes. We’re showing up for abortion access in Minnesota on Sunday, July 17. RSVP here.

Rabbinical Association

For over five decades, the Rabbinical Assembly has strongly and repeatedly affirmed the halakhic necessity of access to abortion based on our members’ understanding of relevant biblical and rabbinic sources and teshuvot – rabbinic responses – and fiercely opposed efforts that would limit access to abortion or stifle reproductive freedoms in the U.S. In response to legislative efforts that threatened reproductive freedom in 2021, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, passed a Resolution on Right to Legal and Accessible Abortion in the United States. Following today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn its previous landmark cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, effectively nullifying the Constitutional right to abortion for millions of Americans, the RA issued the following statement:

“The RA is outraged by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to end the Constitutional right to abortion and deny access to lifesaving medical procedures for millions of individuals in the U.S., in what will be regarded as one of the most extreme instances of governmental overreach in our lifetime.

“Many Americans now face a dire crisis. Many more face uncertainty. This is a dangerous time for all people who are capable of becoming pregnant, especially those in categories who have poorer maternal outcomes, and particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) people or those of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. For individuals living in rural areas or in states that will jump to further restrict abortion, this decision is truly life-threatening. For American Jews and those of other faiths, this decision is a restriction on our religious freedom. For people who fall into the intersections of all or most of the above, our personhood has been rejected by the highest court in our nation.

“The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly has repeatedly affirmed the right of a pregnant person to choose an abortion in cases where ‘continuation of a pregnancy might cause severe physical or psychological harm, or where the fetus is judged by competent medical opinion as severely defective.’ This position is based on our members’ understanding of relevant biblical and rabbinic sources, which compel us to cherish the sanctity of life, including the potential of life during pregnancy, and does not indicate that personhood and human rights begin with conception, but rather with birth as indicated by Exodus 21:22-23.

“Based on our understanding of Jewish tradition and religious freedom, The RA supports the right to full access for all those who need abortions to the entire spectrum of reproductive healthcare and strongly opposes all efforts by governmental, private entities, or individuals to limit or dismantle such access. Denying individuals access to the complete spectrum of reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortion-inducing devices and medications, and abortions, among others, on religious grounds, deprives those who need medical care of their Constitutional right to religious freedom. Imposing civil and criminal consequences for clergy assisting their constituents as guided by halakhah deprives our members of a fundamental element of clerical practice incompatible with Jewish values.

“There will continue to be legislative battles in the United States on both the federal and state levels that pose existential threats to reproductive freedom, especially so-called ‘heartbeat’ bills, which violate the foundational principle of separation of church and state. The Rabbinical Assembly emphatically opposes all such laws and Legislative or Executive moves and instead calls on members of Congress to decisively codify Roe v. Wade into law to enshrine the right to health, freedom, and dignity for all Americans.”