The Jewish history over a million years has narrated different stories of the exodus. Stories have dated back to the escape of the Israelites down to the Cossack murders, making Jews learn an important lesson of always staying prepared to leave when necessary. With the passage of Senate Bill 8 in Texas, will this be another story of departure for Jews in Texas?
SB 8 bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and at the same time have the provision that delegates enforcement to individual Texans. This means anyone in the state can file a private civil action against those who seek or provide abortion as well as those who also assist in the pursuit of one. This is where the leadership Jews synagogue may be affected.
Like many of the American Jews, the faith community believes that life begins at birth and utmost value is placed on that life — especially when carrying a child in the womb. For instance, some rabbis have considered a particular exception to accommodate a woman’s pregnancy cravings if she happens to long for prohibited dishes. For the sake of her wellbeing and the baby she is carrying, she is given consideration from the Kosher law.
Danny Horwitz, a rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun, once advised a pregnant woman to get an abortion after knowing that another child would cause additional stress on her preexisting health conditions.
“Thus, when this woman came to me for direction, I told her not that she could have an abortion, but that she must have an abortion, that the God of my understanding would want her to do it,” he wrote.
However, with SB 8, that advice alone can already be considered a violation.
The nation’s increasingly violent culture war has included synagogues as potential targets. In 2018, 11 Jews were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by a white supremacist because of their support for the refugees. The anti-abortionists and their movement haven’t pondered before taking lives for the sake of its own crusade, slaying doctors, clinic employees, and security and law enforcement. In 2015, a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood killed three people and injured nine more. The Department of Justice has considered these anti-abortion extremists as domestic terrorist threats in the county.
Texas has now certainly given the authority to enforce SB 8 in the hands of these anti-abortion extremists. And with Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature on this bill as bound by the Constitution, it’s not so hard to predict the kind of violence that may spring out from SB 8.
Last week, one lawyer was murdered and another one was assaulted by an anti-abortionist in El Paso because he thinks they were “pro-choice Jewish Satan worshippers.”
Although this may not be a grave reason to leave, with these circumstances, it is important for the Jews in Texas to be wary and careful.