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Second gentleman meets with Jewish abortion rights activists at White Home

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff met with representatives from the Nationwide Council of Jewish Ladies on the White Home on Monday (Sept. 12) to debate abortion rights, with activists saying he agreed the subject is a matter of spiritual freedom for a lot of American Jews.

Sheila Katz, head of the NCJW, referred to as the roughly hourlong assembly she and members of her group convened with Emhoff “splendidly inspiring.” She stated the dialogue centered totally on numerous state-level battles over abortion entry within the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court docket resolution overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this yr, ending many years of nationwide legalized abortion.

“One of many extra significant issues he talked about was what it’s like for him to be very vocal as a person on this problem,” Katz stated of Emhoff. “He stated at one level that males have to ‘Get their heads out of the sand and soar into motion.’”

RELATED: With Roe in peril, abortion rights advocates prepare appeals to religious liberty

Katz stated Emhoff, who’s Jewish, additionally agreed abortion entry was “a difficulty of spiritual freedom for Jews,” referring to a Jewish understanding of abortion that differs from many conservative Christian approaches to the difficulty.

“We have been actually glad to listen to him speak about that,” Katz stated. “He understands what it means — that in Judaism, abortion just isn’t solely permitted, however typically required when the lifetime of the pregnant individual is in danger.”

A White Home official confirmed the assembly to Faith Information Service on Monday, saying the group “mentioned the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to guard reproductive well being care and abortion entry.”

Numerous White Home officers, together with Vice President Kamala Harris, have met with faith-based abortion rights advocates up to now, however Monday’s assembly represents the best degree of assist but for an argument NCJW and different Jewish teams have drawn consideration to for months: State-level abortion restrictions being applied throughout the nation instantly battle with many Jewish understandings of abortion — together with when life begins.

“Abortion entry is a Jewish worth,” Katz told a crowd of greater than 1,000 Jewish demonstrators who protested outdoors the U.S. Capitol in Might.

Certainly, a number of lawsuits have been filed in latest months arguing simply that. In Florida, Rabbi Barry Silver, who oversees Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, filed swimsuit in June, arguing the state’s 15-week abortion ban — signed into legislation by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this yr — infringes on the non secular freedom of Jews.

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

“This legislation criminalizes Judaism and a bunch of different religions,” Silver told RNS at the time, noting that DeSantis signed the invoice into legislation throughout an occasion hosted by an evangelical church.

A number of different Florida clergy from a variety of spiritual traditions filed a similar suit in August, arguing the ban additionally impugns on their non secular freedom. They later filed for a temporary injunction.

And final week, a lawsuit filed in Indiana by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, on behalf of 5 nameless residents and the group Hoosier Jews for Selection, argued the state’s forthcoming abortion ban, which fits into impact later this week, violates Jewish educating about when a fetus turns into an individual and the need of abortion in sure circumstances.

“Jewish legislation stresses the need of defending the life and bodily and psychological well being of the mom previous to delivery because the fetus just isn’t but deemed to be an individual,” reads the lawsuit.

The NCJW’s assembly with Emhoff coincides with a deliberate week of activism slated to happen throughout the nation — together with within the nation’s capital. Hoping to provoke what’s already overwhelming support for abortion entry amongst U.S. Jews, organizers are planning an illustration outdoors the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that can embody speeches from leaders comparable to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and the blowing of shofars, a conventional Jewish instrument utilized in non secular rituals and customary from a ram’s horn.

Throughout Emhoff’s assembly with NCJW activists, Katz stated, he famous his personal rabbi is slated to participate within the demonstration — or what activists are calling a “sho-test.” The delegation additionally celebrated Emhoff’s standing as the primary Jewish individual to occupy his place and requested for his ideas within the lead-up to the Excessive Holidays, together with Rosh Hashana later this month.

In line with Katz, the second gentleman responded by reflecting on the importance of lighting a menorah in the White House and affixing a mezuzah to the doorway of the vice presidential residence.

“I nonetheless haven’t gotten over the truth that we’ve got any individual Jewish, within the White Home, in that position,” Katz stated.

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