"Mommy, let me live!--Judaism confronts abortion.
"Mommy let me live!" screams the tasteless headline of a prolife ad, complete with scary pictures about a baby's diary: May 1: "Today my parents gave me the gift of life....One week has passed and look, I'm no longer a single cell" and so on through the year. Here are the concluding entries: July 24: "Today I went with my mother to the abortion committee, and within minutes my fate was sealed. At the committee no one attempted to explain to my mother the significance of the act she is about to perform. I am convinced that if they showed her a picture of me, and she knew that I am essentially complete in all aspects, she would not think of killing me." July 25: "The date when I am to die has already been set. But perhaps someone with compassion will still come and explain to my mother what she is about to lose and give her and me true happiness." July 26: "My mother received the notice to come to the hospital tomorrow to perform the operation and my life in the last hours which remain before my life is to be e nded with horrible instruments. There is nothing left but for me to plead to my mother for my life: Mommy! Have pity on me! Spare me my life! I want to live."
Here is uncompromising, brutal, powerful prolife advertising--four pages of it, in color, with photographs of the living baby in the mother's womb--in a mass-circulation newspaper.
Now this is what we expect to find in Christian Coalition Christian Coalition, organization founded to advance the agenda of political and social conservatives, mostly comprised of evangelical Protestant Republicans, and to preserve what it deems traditional American values. or in traditional Catholic newspapers, but where did I find it?
In the Jerusalem Post, the English-language daily published since pre-state times in the State of Israel.
What that means is that a powerful, forthright and unapologetic prolife voice has emerged within Judaism too, not on the fringes On The Fringe is a popular Pakistani television show on Indus Music. It is hosted and scripted by the eccentric television host and music critic, Fasi Zaka and directed by Zeeshan Pervez. but at the very center, in Jerusalem (with representatives throughout the world) and at the heart of Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism
Religion of Jews who adhere strictly to traditional beliefs and practices; the official form of Judaism in Israel. Orthodox Jews hold that both the written law (Torah) and the oral law (codified in the Mishna and interpreted in the Talmud) are immutably .
The organization is called "Efrat: The International Organization for Saving Jewish Babies," and it states its purpose very simply: "engaged in a struggle to prevent the intentional termination of pregnancies termination of pregnancy Induced abortion. See Abortion. .... The story of Efrat is a wonderful success story of saving Jewish babies." The Jerusalem Post special section includes stories of mothers who took risks to have their babies, and how glad they are they did; the power of persuasion, with Efrat representatives arguing in favor of life; the story of Dr. Bernard Nathanson Bernard Nathanson (born 31 July 1926 in New York) is a medical doctor and pro-life activist from New York. Nathanson graduated in 1949 from McGill University Facility of Medicine in Montreal. He has been licensed to practice in New York state since 1952. , the Jewish gynecologist gynecologist /gy·ne·col·o·gist/ (-kol´ah-jist) a person skilled in gynecology.
A physician specializing in gynecology. and abortionist abortionist /abor·tion·ist/ (ah-bor´shun-ist) one who performs abortions. who repented and whose story is told in The Silent Scream.
True, Efrat prefers information and guidance to demonstrations and violence. Its members--doctors, psychologists, social workers, rabbis, and public figures--approach mothers in the State of Israel who are considering abortion and who have come before hospital committees for permission. Their policy is simple: "We cannot prevent a woman from having an abortion if she really wants one and is determined to go ahead. But it is our humanitarian and professional duty to explain to her all the repercussions repercussions npl → répercussions fpl
repercussions npl → Auswirkungen pl of her actions. Knowledge of all the facts will allow the woman to make the right choice."
Efrat, which is located at 10 Halluy Street, Jerusalem 91062, Israel, not only saves fetuses from abortion but supports expectant mothers who find themselves constrained by poverty to abort (1) To exit a function or application without saving any data that has been changed.
(2) To stop a transmission.
(programming) abort - To terminate a program or process abnormally and usually suddenly, with or without diagnostic information. their babies: "Efrat is certain that it is possible to greatly reduce the unjustifiable slaughter of fetuses, if we all support this important institution whose sole aim is the rescue of Jewish children." When women give birth, Efrat is there with food, diapers, encouragement, and allowance.
What is quite remarkable in the Efrat program is what it does not say: here is no appeal to that eternal presence in Jewish life, the Holocaust. Efrat does not tell the stories of the million Jewish children put to death in the German catastrophe, nor does it formulate its message in the language of "not handing Hitler any more victories," even though voluntarily killing Jewish children is precisely what the Germans of that period undertook to do. The statement is entirely in positive language: "rescue Jewish children." But in the present context, the language of "rescue" bears its own subtext sub·text
1. The implicit meaning or theme of a literary text.
2. The underlying personality of a dramatic character as implied or indicated by a script or text and interpreted by an actor in performance. . Now what makes Efrat remarkable--apart from the sanctity of its program--is that its leadership encompasses Orthodox rabbis and laypeople lay·peo·ple or lay people
Laymen and laywomen. throughout the world, and the organization clearly calls for its deepest rationale upon the sanctity of life that marks the religion Judaism. That is not the face that much of Judaism in the West shows the world, but the fault does not lie with Judaism.
The religion makes its statement, and appealing to the Torah--not merely to worldly utility or to secular memory--Judaism motivates Efrat and similar organizations to do the work that the faith must deem sacred: a true mitzvah, an act of religious piety. And then, speaking for themselves as individuals, numerous Jews will gladly tell you, "Judaism is proabortion," though the term they prefer is "prochoice." National Jewish organizations, both secular and religious, align themselves with the abortionist cause, and the single most powerful Judaism in the USA, Reform Judaism Reform Judaism
Religious movement that has modified or abandoned many traditional Jewish beliefs and practices in an effort to adapt Judaism to the modern world. It originated in Germany in 1809 and spread to the U.S. , is explicit on the matter. Secular organizations as well take the same view. Ethnic Jews take an active role in the entire phalanx phalanx, ancient Greek formation of infantry. The soldiers were arrayed in rows (8 or 16), with arms at the ready, making a solid block that could sweep bristling through the more dispersed ranks of the enemy. of abortionist organizations and institutions, and in many cases they appeal to their ethnic origin as an explanation for their devotion to "choice."
How are people to make sense of these contradictory facts?
First, not everybody who identifies as ethnically Jewish practices the religion Judaism. Second, just as there are many Christianities, which intersect in a few things but part company in many, so there are diverse Judaisms, each with its own account of what the Torah requires of holy Israel, God's first love. Among the several Judaisms some present the Torah in its classical formulation, others do not.
But if people want to know the view of abortion that Judaism has set forth through the ages and that today shapes the aspirations of the vast majority of Jews who practice Judaism in the State of Israel, Europe, and the outlying diaspora, listen carefully to Efrat. The Torah of Sinai speaks through them--and pleads, along with them, "Mommy let me live!" But the language is its own: "Choose life."
The upshot is, when people tell you "the Jewish view" they may be reporting their personal opinion, and by "the Jewish view" they may mean the opinions of people who derive from Jewish ancestors. They may speak in the name of Judaism when they in fact set forth their personal opinions, as though a religion is simply the sum total of the opinions of the faithful in a given time and circumstance. Or by "Judaism" people may mean a religious community, a social entity that all together takes a position in response to the revelation at Sinai, whether Reform or Orthodox or any of the other Judaisms that flourish. At that point, a Judaism makes its statement.
Christians can make sense of the diversity of Judaisms when they compare Catholic Christianity's understanding of the task of Peter with that of Unitarian or Mormon Christianities; Anglican liturgy with evangelical; the doctrine of the Church put forth by Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II) born with that put forth by Billy Graham Noun 1. Billy Graham - United States evangelical preacher famous as a mass evangelist (born in 1918)
Graham, William Franklin Graham ; and the Christologies preached in any ten churches chosen at random in St. Petersburg, Florida St. Petersburg (often shortened to St. Pete) is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. The city is known as a vacation destination for North American and European vacationers, as well as a politically important battleground in U.S. Presidential politics. , with those preached in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Church's one foundation may well be Jesus Christ Jesus Christ: see Jesus.
40 days after Resurrection, ascended into heaven. [N.T.: Acts 1:1–11]
See : Ascension
kind to the poor, forgiving to the sinful. [N.T. Lord, but in everyday life many Christianities compete, and the same true is for Judaisms. That is why, when it comes to abortion and proabortionists insist on theirs as "the Jewish" or "the Judaic view," the right question is: "Which Jew?" and "Which Judaism"?
I offer the prayer that, when God sorts matters out, He will hear the unborn child whose still, small voice Efrat hears, as Elijah heard God's voice in the silence of the storm--and whose life and whose mother's life and happiness Efrat deems holy. And that is the commanding voice of Sinai, the voice that, for here and now, we must call "the Torah." If, as the Torah teaches, ours is the God of mercy, then that prayer must find its home in God's ear.
Originally appeared July 9, 1997 in the online newsletter of the Jewish Communication Network at http://www.jcn18.com. Reprinted by permission of the author.
JACOB NEUSNER Jacob Neusner (born July 28, 1932, Hartford, Connecticut) is an academic scholar of Judaism who lives in Rhinebeck, New York. Biography
Neusner was educated at Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary (where he received rabbinic ordination), the University of , a rabbi without sectarian connections, is Distinguished Research Professor of Religious Studies, University of South Florida
• • [ and Professor of Religion, Bard College Bard College, at Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; founded 1860 as St. Stephen's College for men; rechartered 1935 as Bard College; became coeducational in 1944; affiliated with Columbia Univ. 1928–44. A small, progressive college, Bard stresses independent study. . He has published numerous works on Judaism and interfaith dialogue, including, with his son Noam Neusner, The Book of Jewish Wisdom: The Talmud of the Well-Considered Life (Continuum, 1996); The Classics of Judaism: A Textbook and Reader (Westminster John Knox, 1995); with Bruce Chilton, Judaism in the New Testament (Routledge, 1995); and, with Andrew Greeley The Reverend Dr Andrew M. Greeley (born February 5, 1928 in Oak Park, Illinois to Andrew and Grace Greeley) is an Irish-American Roman Catholic priest, sociologist, journalist and best selling author. He has given numerous interviews on both radio and television. , Common Ground: A Priest and a Rabbi Read Scripture Together (Pilgrim, 1996).