Dear TEE community,

Next week, on February 9th, we will be joining congregations across the country in observing Repro Shabbat, organized by the National Council of Jewish Women in response to the growing threat to reproductive rights in the United States. In addition to demonstrating American Jews’ commitment to those rights, the observance is an opportunity to educate ourselves about the distinctive views of our tradition when it comes to issues of procreation.

In all streams of Judaism, there is a recognition of the importance of informed decision-making, ethical considerations, and sensitivity to individual circumstances. While there may be differing views on specific reproductive issues, the overarching principles often include a commitment to the sanctity of life, compassion, and the pursuit of justice in alignment with Jewish values. These, in turn, are informed by biblical and rabbinic traditions which considered a fetus to be part of the mother’s body and understood that mental health, as well as physical wellbeing, could be the reason to terminate a pregnancy.

In recent decades, Orthodox movements in Judaism have become more restrictive in their interpretations of Jewish law regarding reproduction. At the same time, progressive movements, rooted in a belief in individual autonomy and the primacy of personal conscience, have strongly supported the right to choose and sought expanded access to contraception and family planning.

During our Repro Shabbat service, we will have an opportunity to discuss some of the texts that lay the foundation for Jewish beliefs around reproductive rights as well as learn more about the Jewish values underlying our commitment to reproductive justice.

Our services that evening will be led by Rabbi Sandra Katz. I hope you will join us.

Rabbi Drorah Setel