I am reaching out to you on this devastating day for the soul of our nation, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision rescinding Roe v. Wade. I want to be clear—I do not speak now for the CABI staff or board, but personally, as your rabbi of twenty-eight years. My heart grieves to witness, for the first time in American history, the court actually taking away a fundamental human right.
This decision is a direct assault on American women, and thus by definition, an attack on over half of our CABI community. It is also, without question, an anti-Semitic attack on religious freedom, because it imposes conservative Catholic and evangelical Christian standards on Jews and many others. Our tradition is very clear: human life begins at birth rather than conception, and in many cases Jewish law mandates the termination of a harmful pregnancy. The court’s horrific decision denies Jewish women the right to live by the Jewish values that guide many of us. For more on this, see:
What do we do? Today, mostly, we allow time for grief and anger. But in the coming days, I hope and pray that our community will organize and take action. Abortion will be illegal in Idaho within one month. As Rabbi Tarfon taught: “The day is short and the task is great. It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Many years ago, when I was president of the local chapter of Planned Parenthood, I attended a national conference that featured older clergy who had run underground abortion networks to assist women in the days before Roe. I was deeply impressed with their courage—and now, I believe we will all need to muster our own. I hope and pray that we at CABI, as an inclusive and egalitarian Jewish community, will find ways—legal, and if necessary, illegal too—to help women who need abortions and secure, again, reproductive rights for all Idahoans and Americans.