Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice

A quick note from Rabbi Marisa Elana James, CBST’s Director of Social Justice Programming. 

The Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice on Tuesday, May 17, was powerful and beautiful. A dozen of us from CBST traveled down to Washington, D.C., in all kinds of different ways, in order to be there for this important event.

Thousands of Jews from across the Northeast and across the country managed to get themselves to this rally in D.C. by 9 a.m. on a Tuesday—a work day—which is really remarkable. Jewish communities care deeply about this.

We were surrounded by people with a strong, shared sense of purpose, and it was energizing to be with people of all generations and genders, with families with children, with friends and colleagues and former CBST interns who are now clergy.

Some of the participants have been part of abortion advocacy and activism for more than 50 years, since before 1973 and Roe. One might think that people who had already succeeded in this fight once before might be depressed or despairing in this moment, but they were the most fiercely inspiring, saying, “We did it before; we can do it again.”

We brought signs that specifically link bodily autonomy issues, because protecting trans children and protecting access to hormone treatment goes hand-in-hand with reproductive rights. They’re deeply connected. It’s often the same clinics providing those things, especially in smaller towns and in redder states.

I just loved our signs. They read, “Stop legislating our bodies!” with the rainbow and trans flag, and the messages: “Protect Trans Kids,” “Keep Abortion Legal,” and “Reproductive Healthcare for All.”

One of the speakers at the rally was Abby Stein, a wonderful teacher who has spoken at CBST several times, a trans woman rabbi originally from the Hasidic community.

The last speaker at the rally was Heather Booth, an amazing life-long activist and teacher of organizing. Pre-Roe she was one of the founders of the Jane Collective in Chicago, which helped women access abortion care when it was still illegal.

Heather Booth’s message to us reminded me so much of Rabbi Kleinbaum’s regular message to us: “Don’t despair.” She reminded us, “We have so much power. There are so many of us who are passionate about reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. We can do this again, and we ARE going to do this again, and we’re going to do it together.”

The powerful message of, “We can do this,” was a fierce and joyful way to end.

Learn more about Rabbi James and her work here.

Photo of Rabbi James and CBST folks at the Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice by Gili Getz.

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