At Repro Shabbat, Jewish congregations try to change the narrative on abortion

by | Feb 16, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — In many Christian congregations, abortion has been endlessly described as an unmitigated evil.This weekend, Jewish congregations gathering for Shabbat services will make sure American Jews know and understand the Jewish point of view on the medical procedure.
Across the country, at more than 1,200 synagogues, Jews will be discussing abortion and reproductive rights in sermons, lectures, talks and other forums Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18) as part of Repro Shabbat.
The effort, so named by the National Council of Jewish Women, which first piloted the annual observance three years ago, is expected to be the largest so far following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer.
“The Jewish community is overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council for Jewish Women. “But a lot of Jews don’t know what Judaism says about abortion and reproductive freedom.”
Repro Shabbat is an effort to push back against the prevailing view that abortion is religiously forbidden and to shore up the Jewish belief that abortion is permissible and, on occasion, even required. The date of Repro Shabbat was intentionally chosen for the Torah reading recited in most synagogues each February from the 21st chapter of Exodus.
In that chapter, which addresses penalties for accidenta …

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