Readers Respond to Abortion Coverage
The Language Around Abortion
I read with interest “Jewish Tradition’s Approach to Abortion” in the July/August 2022 issue. Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz makes it clear that tradition recognizes the difference between a fetus and a person and holds that a woman’s physical and mental health takes primacy.
In the current political climate, it is critical that the pro-woman agenda reject the term “unborn person,” which has found its way into the most restrictive anti-abortion laws. Words matter, and unfortunately the pro-choice movement over the years has allowed the other side to hijack language. Those who support women’s choice should have spoken out loudly when the other camp first began to call itself “pro-life.”
Rabbanit Berkowitz made the mistake of contrasting pro-choice and pro-life. We must all watch how we speak. None of us is anti-life, and there are no unborn persons.
No one, regardless of their gender, should be unmoved by the will of a minority to remove a woman’s right to make choices about her own body. I was therefore moved by two must-read articles in the July/August issue: Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz’s commentary and “Rather Than Live in Disgrace, I Decided to Kill Myself” by Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
Berkowitz brings thoughtfulness in explaining away (political, not religious) conservative misconceptions about the historical Jewish view of pregnancy and abortion. Meanwhile, Pogrebin vividly and bravely shares the overwhelming angst and anxiety of dealing with two pregnancies in the pre-Roe era, which was marked by shame, anguish and lack of options.
These articles put the issue of abortion in a context that offers a powerful alternative to the “truthspeak” offered by those who do not think women are entitled to make choices over their own bodily autonomy.
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Read It for Yourselves
After reading the interview with Amy Spitalnick in the July/August issue, I was impressed with her efforts that led to the judgment against some of the participants in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. However, I found her answer to the question about fighting white supremacy to be misleading.
Spitalnick’s assertion was that the Florida Individual Freedom bill “ties the hands of educators to talk about white supremacy and racism.” When I actually read the bill, I saw nothing of the sort. The bill clearly states that these topics (among others) are acceptable for instruction. Topics for instruction include all aspects of African American history and “slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination.” The bill also features instructions on how Holocaust education and antisemitism should be taught.
What the bill doesn’t allow are theories like “antiracism” and ideology that white supremacy has infected all the institutions in the United States. It seems reasonable that the parents of Florida’s children wouldn’t want their children to be indoctrinated in those false narratives. I urge all Hadassah readers to read the context of this bill and not be misled by hyperbolic rhetoric.
The arts story “Are We in a Golden Age of Haredi Television?” (July/August) was fair in that it presented all points of view. This is a marked improvement from past articles elsewhere, where frequently only people who had left Orthodox Judaism were featured.
However, I do have an issue with Julia Haart. While I would not call her antisemitic or hold her directly responsible for recent bouts of violence against haredi Jews, I would deem her an Orthodox basher. I would like to know if there is any form of Orthodox Judaism that she does not consider extremist or fundamentalist.
There is a larger point to be made here. There is a group of the authors—Shulem Deen, Deborah Feldman, Julia Haart and Abby Stein, among others—who wish to trash Orthodoxy on their way out. Can’t we have a more respectful dialogue?
Fair Lawn, N.J.
Compulsive Overeater? You Are Not Alone
Eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders, as related in “An Eating Order Pandemic” (July/August). Furthermore, the isolation of the Covid era has seriously impacted those who suffer from these illnesses.
Compulsive overeating (or undereating) is specifically a disease of isolation and self-centered fear. I am a grateful member of Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous. The first step of the program, “we admitted we were powerless over food…,” is the only step that deals with one’s drug of choice, whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol or gambling. The subsequent 11 steps offer a spiritual solution.
OA is free and open to all. You are not alone.
One Lucky Model
I was delighted to read “Doing Good Is Always in Fashion,” the article about Alembika clothing in the July/August issue. I was lucky to model for Hadassah Florida’s Alembika fashion shows in the spring. Now, I wear, enjoy and am complimented on my Alembika dresses all the time.
Yael Edelist was a joy to work with and it was a privilege to support an Israeli company run by women who appreciate Hadassah.
Nancy Golin Wiadro
Terms of Agreement
In the March/April 2022 issue, in the article “Envisioning the Rabbinate Through a Different Lens,” a person was referred to as a “Messianic Jew.” I think that most self-identified Jews agree that there are Jews and Christians. In a Jewish publication, a person who is a follower of Jesus should not be called a Messianic Jew.
Suzan D. Herskowitz