Letters | May 20, 2022


The womb at the back of the bus

In “The Torah is unequivocally pro-life” (Opinion, May 12), Yaakov Menken cherrypicks — deforms, actually — Jewish texts to place them in alignment with the extremist abortion stance of Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. Which is to say: utterly opposed to standard halachic teaching — and Israeli government policy! — on this fraught subject. Talk about assimilation!

Tellingly problematic is his employment of the phrase “Jewish Bible” — which is common Christian usage; the Jewish term is “Tanach.” Who would opt for the former over the latter for an article in a Jewish publication?

Further: Menken’s piece is a parade example of what halachah would characterize as geneivat da’at.

The phrase “pro-life” is the shorthand way of referring to the Christian conception that life begins at conception. (Rabbinic tradition dictates otherwise: that life begins at birth/viability.)


Menken, however, uses the term to refer to the existence of an embryo within the womb. This is a deceitful, verbal slight-of-hand.

Keep in mind that Menken belongs to the parochial strand of Judaism which views women as having second-class status: in a court of law as a witness; and in synagogue — the formal, ritual presence of God — relegated to separate seating, in the “back of the bus,” so to speak.

Severna Park

Exodus of obstetricians

Barbara Goldberg Goldman (“The future is our past unless we act now,” Opinion, May 12) is absolutely correct about what will be the result of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. I live in Nebraska and already obstetricians are planning to leave the state, as they won’t be able to safely practice in the state. The states that are passing the stringent laws that do not allow for any abortions — which include ectopic and any D and C procedure — will result in significant numbers of woman dying. It is very serious and we need to be deeply concerned.

Chadron, Neb.

Women’s bodies are not property of the state

Here is another opinion from a Jew on Roe v. Wade and abortion. I am not learned in Jewish texts like the rabbis who wrote in the May 12 issue, so I cannot comment on what Judaism may or may not say about abortion. However, I do know some things. Women are human beings. Women have an intrinsic, unquestionable right to sovereignty over their own bodies. Women are not second-class citizens and neither are their bodies property of the state. Regardless of what I personally may or may not feel about abortion, I cannot decide for a woman what she may or may not do regarding her body or her life and neither can anyone else. And, to second Barbara Goldberg Goldman, we must vote to increase Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in order to keep women free and to protect their integrity and dignity, as well as for a list of other reasons much, much too long to include here.


Trust anyone over 39

Regarding “Sixth & I Synagogue: Expanding what it means to be holy” (Synagogue Spotlight, May 12):

I can see the top of Sixth & I from the fitness center of our condo building. However, I have not stepped inside even before COVID, because it is made clear that Jewish “elders” like myself are unwelcome. And the unwelcome mat was underscored in no uncertain terms when most advertised events were punctuated with an asterisk saying they were for people 35 and under (now raised to 39).

The leadership even went so far as to toss out Downtown Shabbat, which drew Jews from the entire DMV of all ages and was very popular. They decamped to Shepherd Park together with their flock of aging Jews. Finally, any hope of reconciliation was dashed when they removed both the Israeli and American flags from the bimah without any explanation. With more Jews of all ages moving downtown with the trend of office to residential building conversions, I hope the leadership of Sixth & I embraces those over 39 for services and programs.


Where’s the Jewish?

That was a perfectly nice article about Josh Bender and the JCC (“Josh Bender, putting the Jewish in JCC,” Last Word, May 5), but it did not have a single example of what was promised in the title: putting the Jewish in the JCC. It was, just as the article said, about “the community as a whole,” from beginning to end. Opening the pool, providing food, honoring healthcare workers are all fine and praiseworthy, but they are not putting the Jewish in the JCC. Except for the pool, the article could have been about Lutheran Social Services or any of several other community organizations.

Washington, D.C.

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  1. It is disappointing how Jews remain so steadfastly beholden to the faux virtue of a woman’s so-called right to choose, especially in a sea of issues that command greater attention, such as the border crisis. Is it not enough that abortions can be performed in case of rape or incest or threat to the life of the mother? There is no extremism in valuing the sanctity of life. There is, however, extremism in abortion-on-demand and the unspeakably sad reality of how disposable life has become.


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