Showing posts from June, 2022

Responding to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade

  Note sent to the United Synagogue of Hoboken community, Sunday June 26, 2022:  Dear friends,  Many of us have been especially focused on the Supreme Court decision  released on Friday that overturns Roe vs. Wade and eliminates a federally assured right to abortion. Already, trigger laws in several states make most abortions illegal currently or imminently. The comments below are excerpted from my comments during yesterday's Shabbat morning service  at the United Synagogue of Hoboken. There is a lot to say about the issue of abortion from a Jewish point of view.  And there is a lot of disagreement.  But I would like to share with you  three fundamental points of agreement across the Jewish spectrum.  In Judaism, the fetus does not have the same rights of personhood as the mother, at ANY point during pregnancy.   The classic traditional Jewish source expressing this is the Mishnah, Ohalot 7:6, Mishnah_Oholot.7.6?vhe=Torat_ Emet_357&lang=bi&with=all

Second chances: In the Torah and Jewish tradition, and in American history (Parashat Behaalotecha / Juneteenth)

(Delivered to the United Synagogue of Hoboken, June 18, 2022) One of the most fascinating rabbis in the time of the Talmud was Rabbi Akiba. Growing up in meager circumstances, he never had the chance to attend school as a child.  He was illiterate until age 40, and he worked as a shepherd.  When he fell in love with Rachel, the daughter of one of the wealthy philanthropists of Jerusalem, her father effectively disowned her because he were so appalled that she was marrying someone who was so ignorant that he couldn’t read or write.  But at age 40 , Akiba was watching his sheep and went to a brook to get some water, and he noticed that in this brook, there were drops of water that were falling on a stone, and over the course of many many years, the drops of water had carved a hole in the stone. It occurred to Akiba:  if these drops of water, just a little at a time, were able to carve a hole in this rock, maybe if I invest some effort every day, eventually I may be able to read.    At th