WASHINGTON – Over a thousand people gathered at Union Square outside the US Congress for the “Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice,” which brought together local activists, community leaders and members of Congress. The rally was organized by the National Council of Jewish Women and was sponsored by dozens of Jewish organizations.
Rabbi Jill Maderer from Congregation Rodef Shalom in Philadelphia left her home together with several congregants at 6 a.m. to make it on time. “We took trains, we took buses; I wanted our national leaders to see our presence and I wanted to stand with that presence and be a part of it,” she said. “And I wanted to be a part of a Jewish statement: separation of church and state means that other religions should not be able to impose their policies as legislation in our country.”
Ron Halber, CEO of JCRC of Greater Washington. “The JCRC is the umbrella organization of over 120 synagogues, schools, social service agencies and local chapters of national organizations,” said Halber. “And when you look at the issues today that are polarizing Americans, one of the issues that American Jews are most united on is the freedom of choice and women’s right to reproductive health.”
“According to a PEW study over 82% of American Jews support a woman’s right to choose,” said Haalber. “It’s very simple: If you don’t want to have an abortion, you don’t have to, but don’t deny the rights of those women and the families that they belong to to make decisions over their own health and their own personal issues.”
Cecil Richter, a DC resident, attended the rally with her friend, Carol Galaty. “As a Jewish woman who turned 80 last year, I feel it’s important that I come out because I want all women to have opportunities and all children to have opportunities for the future,” said Richter.
“I was a paralegal student and I was taking a class in legislative drafting around 1975, and the instructor wanted us to codify Roe vs. Wade. And we all kind of laughed at him. ‘This is law now, why should we need to put into law something that is law?,’” she said. “We were slow to recognize that what we thought was settled law was not, And we need to put it into law.”
“It never occurred to me that this would happen, I’m still shocked,” said Galaty. I used to attend these rallies and thought that we had given this right to our children and our children’s children. I used to attend with my mother, with my cousins and with my daughter. I can’t believe that the Supreme Court justices don’t understand women’s bodies.”
Janie Gordon, a Baltimore resident, attended the rally with her husband. “We are both secular Jews, but I felt like it was important that my roots and my religion was standing up so vocally, so vehemently, for women’s rights, the most basic fundamental right to control your body,” she said.
“It’s frustrating because there are so many things that we need to achieve in terms of social justice,” said Gordon. “So to go back is so disheartening. I have two daughters in their early thirties and to think it’s like, we already won that, we’ve had it; and that it can just be taken away like that. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking.”
“When I look out at all of you, I see our path forward. I see the way we’ll win,” Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), said in her speech.
“Thousands of you hopped on buses, planes, and trains, all across the country, to get here today. Thousands more tuned in from your homes to show solidarity and keep up the fight in your communities,” Katz said.
“We outnumber the people who want to take away our rights,” she said. “We outmatch the people who would violate our freedoms. We will out-march, out-work, and out-organize the people trying to break apart our country, and we’ll do it together.”