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Blowing shofars, Jewish lawmakers, rabbis maintain abortion rights ‘sho-test’

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Blowing shofars, conventional Jewish devices comprised of a ram’s horn, a gaggle of Jewish lawmakers, rabbis and activists proclaimed their assist for abortion rights outdoors the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday (Sept. 14), insisting that entry to abortion is a Jewish worth.

The occasion was one in all many demonstrations dubbed “sho-tests” to convene throughout the nation by the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies in response to the U.S. Supreme Court docket resolution in Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group to overturn abortion rights and looking forward to November’s midterm elections.

“In the course of the week of motion, each blow of the shofar in public areas unifies us in solidarity, as we sound a wake-up name to our individuals and the nation that abortion is important well being care — and abortion justice is a Jewish worth,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida stated because the demonstration bought underway.

She was adopted by Rep. Sara Jacobs of California, the youngest Jewish member of Congress, who known as the court docket’s resolution to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1972 resolution that legalized abortion nationwide, an affront to her non secular beliefs as a Jewish particular person.


RELATED: Second gentleman meets with Jewish abortion rights activists at White House


“In Jewish legislation, it teaches human life begins whenever you take your first breath,” Jacobs stated. She additionally voiced frustration with conservative non secular activists who’ve opposed abortion, accusing them of imposing their very own beliefs — reminiscent of the concept life begins at conception — on others.

“Nobody faith or perception system ought to be capable of supersede others and dictate insurance policies for a various nation,” she stated.

NCJW is amongst a number of non secular teams advancing the argument that new abortion bans which have adopted the Dobbs resolution infringe on the non secular rights of others. Florida and Indiana are at present going through authorized challenges to proposed bans on non secular freedom grounds. Clergy from an array of non secular traditions have signed on to the instances, with Jewish leaders taking a distinguished function in each states.

Jewish People present overwhelming assist for abortion entry in polls, with 83% saying it ought to be authorized in all are most instances, according to a 2014 Pew Research survey. Even Jewish GOP lawmakers aren’t uniformly behind the celebration’s normal anti-abortion push; the Republican Jewish Coalition, a Washington advocacy group, says on its web site that “many good individuals maintain opposing views on these issues and we respect the variations of opinion amongst our membership.”

Sheila Katz, CEO of the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies, addresses an abortion rights occasion hosted by the group outdoors the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2022. RNS photograph by Jack Jenkins

Two rabbis spoke on the occasion, together with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington. Sheila Katz, CEO of the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies, launched Holtzblatt by noting that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a member of her congregation. It at present contains second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who met with NCJW activists on Monday to debate abortion rights.

Shofars have turn into frequent props at political occasions lately, most notably within the days main as much as the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, when activists marched around the building blowing shofars in hopes that God would overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election. Some Jewish People have stated they discover the usage of shofars in such contexts offensive. 

Holtzblatt stated some rabbis argue that when shofars are blown on Rosh Hashana, a Jewish Excessive Vacation that begins later this month, they need to be curved as a substitute of straight as a result of “our souls haven’t but been redeemed.” Later, throughout Yom Kippur, straight shofars ought to be blown to suggest that these current “stand in a joyful place.”

“We blow the shofar to remind us to maintain doing the work so, we will once more return to a straight path, the trail ahead,” she stated. “On this second in our nation, the legislation of the land on reproductive rights has turn into bent. It has turned backwards 50 years. Once we blow the shofar, we’re saying our name, our awakening, our dedication that we’re not going to remain on this curved place. We’re heading in the direction of victory.”

Rabbi Annie Lewis, of Shaare Torah in Maryland, launched the shofar-blowing section of the occasion, calling on listeners to deal with it as a “religious alarm clock, waking us as much as all that’s potential once we act collectively.”


RELATED: As Roe falls, religious abortion-rights advocates prepare for next steps


A gaggle of native Jewish leaders then raised curved shofars, blowing them in unison. They blew with such drive that one in all their quantity collapsed into close by bushes as they completed, having briefly misplaced consciousness from the hassle.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, speaks outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, during an abortion rights event organized by the National Council of Jewish Women. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, speaks outdoors the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2022, throughout an abortion rights occasion organized by the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies. RNS photograph by Jack Jenkins

After the person was cared for and smiling as soon as once more, Wasserman Schultz thanked him and others for his or her participation, joking that that they had “actually given their all” to the occasion.

In an interview with Faith Information Service, Wasserman Schultz identified that Jewish educating significantly insists that abortion be made accessible if the lifetime of a mom is in danger. The educating runs counter to some abortion bans pushed by anti-abortion activists, which don’t embody such exceptions.

“Ensuring {that a} girl’s life is ready to be saved and preserved (is) primarily a tenet of Judaism,” she stated. “For the legislation of the land in the US of America to infringe on a non secular Jewish precept across the concept of life is unacceptable — and the respectable foundation for these lawsuits.”

Nevertheless, she pressured that concern about abortion entry is just not restricted to U.S. Jews, however extends to all People.

“It’s not nearly preserving the proper to an abortion based mostly on Jewish non secular ideas,” Wasserman Schultz stated. “Each girl in America ought to have the proper to make her personal reproductive selections and never have the federal government take over her physique.”

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