Hadassah of Greater Baltimore is holding a special Shabbat celebration to promote advocacy for reproductive rights in the Jewish community on Feb. 10. The local Hadassah branch is participating in the nationwide women’s organization’s Repro Shabbat, an annual event dedicated to educating people about and discussing the Jewish community’s views on abortion.
Hadassah adopted Repro Shabbat after the National Council of Jewish Women introduced the event several years ago. It is celebrated on the weekend when the Torah portion Parshat Mishpatim is read, as this parshah, according to NCJW, is understood by many to establish the Jewish approach to reproductive health care.
In the years since its introduction, 61 partner organizations have started to participate in the annual celebration, including Planned Parenthood, Repair the World and Hillel International.
“Hadassah is and always has been a staunch supporter of a woman’s right to choose in conjunction with her family, doctor and spiritual leader,” said Harriet Rubinson, Hadassah’s vice president of advocacy for the Greater Baltimore region. “Together with other like-minded organizations, we help advocate for legislation on a national level and statewide to ensure reproductive freedom.”
Reproductive health and abortion has been at the forefront of the news, as Jan. 22 marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade’s passing. The 1973 ruling, which protected the right to an abortion, was overruled in June 2022.
In Maryland specifically, Gov. Wes Moore signed a package of bills pertaining to reproductive health care in 2023. Among other things, this protected abortion rights in the state.
As part of its Repro Shabbat havdalah, Hadassah Greater Baltimore will be featuring state Sen. Ariana Kelly, who will be discussing reproductive freedom as a Jewish value and an upcoming constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights in Maryland that is set to be on the ballot on Nov. 5.
“Ohio passed a similar constitutional amendment in the fall,” Rubinson said. “Hopefully, Maryland will do the same to underscore that we respect people’s bodily autonomy and their right to make decisions about their reproductive future.”
Other speakers include Rabbi Daniel Cotzin-Burg of Beth Am and Elizabeth Cullen, Hadassah’s national director of government relations.
To register for Repro Shabbat, visit https://hadassah-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrcuCurTojHNc1vvGPU-hr8zZt5-ilkzxm.