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Passing the Torch

02/14/2023 03:09:27 PM


Guest Blogger, Ellen Sable


I’m known around CBI primarily as the B’nei Mitzvah tutor. But I also had a past life as an environmental engineer. As one would think, that required a lot of math. And because I have an aptitude for math, I tutor every week at AISD’s Gonzalo Garza Independence High School. Just last week, as I was settling into the classroom with my math tutee, I noticed a bumper sticker on a student’s laptop with words of support for reproductive rights.

I had two strong opposing emotions; upbeat - the future is in good hands as younger generations engage and speak out!! and downbeat - we’re STILL fighting for bodily autonomy and religious freedoms, and damn, I’m tired!

I feel sure that I’m not unique among CBI congregants to say I have been to a lot of rallies, protests, and marches in each of the 5 decades since Roe v. Wade. I have the pins, stickers, and photos to show for it. While I don’t exactly have battle scars, I do have battle fatigue.

Like many of you, I make calls, write letters, and send emails. I’ve protested and marched in New Jersey, Washington DC and Austin. I’ve even demonstrated in Crawford, Texas at the “Western White House,” George W. Bush’s ranch, to protest John Roberts’s nomination to SCOTUS. I’ve sat uncomfortably and awkwardly in Senators Cruz and Cornyn’s DC offices as well as with the most right-wing Texas state and congressional representatives, expressing support for abortion rights.

I have prepared testimony to the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee, and when I was shut out of the committee hearing, Wendy Davis read my (and many others) testimony into the record on the floor of the Senate during her famous June 2013 filibuster. It highlighted how my faith and Jewish values support self-determination and abortion access. On that fateful night, I was about five yards from entry to the Texas Senate chamber when the 3rd strike was called on Senator Davis and all hell broke loose. But that’s another story.

With the current political and legal climate in the US and especially in Texas, just like many of you, I’m fuming. I shake my head and yell my outrage back at the radio or TV as I hear heartbreaking stories of the burden for working women and of life-threatening medical consequences. I feel uneasy for my two adult daughters and other family members and friends of reproductive age.

I’m introverted by nature and my stomach is in knots as I recall all this, and it fatigues me. It’s tempting to step away from the fight if only the issues weren’t of such significance and dire consequence.

This shabbat is Repro Shabbat spearheaded by National Council of Jewish Women, an organization near and dear to me. Dozens of congregations in 41 states, DC and Canada are participating. It is timed annually to coincide with the Torah portion Mishpatim, where rabbis say is found the basis of Jewish views on the beginning of life. Repro Shabbat is a time for communities to re-assert that reproductive freedom, autonomy, and access to abortion are Jewish values.

Yet, this Repro Shabbat for me is a reminder that even though those from a ‘seasoned’ generation may be fatigued over the 5 decades, we have no choice but to continue the fight into the 6th. But now I take to heart that the torch is passed to younger people who have unquestionably stepped to the plate. I’m so very grateful for Millennials (shout out to Rabbi Levy) and Gen-Zers who are using their youthful spirit, creativity, and social media savvy, to carry the battle forward, even if it’s as simple as affixing a sticker to a laptop. Because one thing is for sure – human rights and dignity will always need to be fought for, and 5 decades later, the struggle for abortion access is more critical than ever.

See or for information about NCJW.

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784