Dear TEE community,

After Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade I found myself thinking of poet Marge Piercy’s poem, “The Sabbath of Mutual Respect,” which includes the lines:

Habondia, the real abundance, is the power

to say yes and to say no, to open

and to close, to take or to leave

and not to be taken by force or law

or fear or poverty or hunger.

To bear children or not to bear by choice

is holy.

Piercy writes not only as a feminist and a woman but also as a Jew, whose work is frequently included in contemporary Jewish liturgy (including at TEE). While there are – of course! – differing opinions within the Jewish community about the details, our tradition is clear that reproductive health and the preservation of existing (i.e., the mother’s) life are foundational values. Many of us have witnessed the public debate about these issues with growing frustration and alarm, especially as they are so dominated by Christian perspectives and assumptions.

Next week, in synagogues throughout the country, Jews will be observing Repro Shabbat, an event organized by the National Council of Jewish Women in response to the growing threats to reproductive justice in our country. Here at TEE, our service on February 17 will include special readings and an opportunity to delve firsthand into the key texts from our tradition that inform Jewish attitudes to reproductive health and justice. Please plan to join us for what should be an engaging and enlightening evening.

Rabbi Drorah Setel