Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

My heart keeps breaking at the news emerging from the Supreme Court.

We knew that the end of Roe was coming. It’s still a shock to the system, and portends a tremendous amount of suffering to come. Countless people will suffer and die because of today’s ruling, and we know that the consequences will be most dire for people of color and for those without the fiscal resources to travel to “safe” states where abortion is available.

SCOTUS’ decision today is a violation of human and civil rights that counters mainstream Jewish understanding in every denomination. It will cause unimaginable harm to millions who have just lost access to life-saving healthcare. This is entirely counter to Jewish teaching about the right to abortion as necessary health care for the pregnant person. (For more on this, I recommend R. Danya Ruttenberg’s recent essay My Religion Makes Me Pro-Abortion.)

The decision lands with me in a personal way. My preexisting medical conditions (including my strokes and the heart attack I just endured) mean that a pregnancy would likely kill me, and I’m all too aware that in many states where abortion has just become illegal there is no exception even for rape. Beyond that, I’m about the same age as Roe; I’ve never lived in a world without it. Many of you remember the days before Roe. Now all of us are living in the days after it.

Today we grieve. After Shabbat, we’ll roll up our sleeves and start working toward a better world.

The National Council of Jewish Women is sponsoring an online vigil at 4pm ET today (June 24, 2022):

We will hold space for collective outrage, for our community’s grief, for the anxiety of what’s next — for all of our emotions. Featuring NCJW CEO Sheila Katz, NCJW’s Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, and rabbinical students Koach Baruch Frazier and Arielle Korman. Open to all.

Here’s a link where you can register for that Vigil — and can also register to learn more about upcoming programs created by the NCJW, including a community briefing on abortion access and communal next steps.

For some of us, staying glued to the news feels important. For others, taking Shabbat away from the news may offer our souls some necessary rest. Take a moment to discern which of those feels most potentially restorative to you. Either way, I invite all of us to avoid “doomscrolling,” which amps up anxiety but doesn’t actually help anyone.

We’ll gather (both onsite and online) tomorrow morning for Shabbat services, and I hope that coming together in community will be restorative and sweet. And after Shabbat, we’ll begin working toward helping those who need us most — which is always our responsibility and our calling as Jews.

Blessings to all for a Shabbat shalom u-mevorach, a Shabbat of wholeness and blessing,

— Rabbi Rachel