Repro Shabbat — Rachel Petroff Kessler

Repro Shabbat January 29, 2022

The work can feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start — or even to know if your involvement can make a difference.

Already thousands of years ago, our sages knew we might be inclined to throw up our hands: Rabbi Tarfon taught: ֹ

It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it (Pirkei Avot 2:16) — we don’t have to fix everything, and we might not be able to! But we also can’t abdicate responsibility.

I want to focus on two different modes of involvement.

First: political advocacy

I think the easiest way to commit to political advocacy involves leveraging your position as part of the Reform Jewish community, including the Reproductive rights task force right here at TI.

The Religious Action Center (political advocacy branch of the Reform Movement) is working in partnership with the Women of Reform Judaism  on the WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign — together they are providing an organizing structure for congregations, women’s groups, and other Reform Jewish communities to take collective action for reproductive health and rights on a local, state, provincial, and federal level.

Sue Tafler does amazing work keeping everyone informed and sharing opportunities for strategic advocacy. If you talk to Sue or I after services (or reach out to us later), we can get you connected to immediate opportunities to reach out to elected officials (with form letters all ready to go) and on contact lists to be alerted when future critical advocacy opportunities arise.

Second: helping pregnant people access abortions

Taking action to help even just one pregnant person have agency over their reproductive choices is of tremendous value. Even here in Maryland, financial and logistical hurdles may make it difficult or impossible for a pregnant person seeking abortion to attain one.

The DC Abortion Fund and Baltimore Abortion Fund both provide financial assistance and practical support to individuals who live in or travel to Maryland for abortion care (DCAF also provides support throughout the DMV).

These abortion funds help with the cost associated with an abortion, provide lodging or transportation for those who need to travel for abortion care, and offer translation support. They rely on volunteers and donations to do their critical work.

I am reminded of that classic story of the starfish — the concerned citizen walking along the beach may never be able to throw all the stranded starfish back into the ocean, but to those starfish who are returned to the water the intervention made all the difference.