Nashville's Gordon Jewish Community Center recently backed out of letting Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee use its space for a fundraiser next month amid apparent pressures from some of the center's members.
Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee had agreed to rent space from the center for an Oct. 1 cocktail party fundraiser called Amuse-Bouche, which is French for "entertaining the mouth." The event includes a long list of prominent Nashvillians as either patrons or hosts, including Nashville Mayor-elect Megan Barry and her husband. But Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee, confirmed to The Tennessean that the Jewish Community Center informed him last week that it would not rent space as originally planned. Instead, Planned Parenthood has now found a different location for the fundraiser. The group has opted not to publicize the new venue. Leslie Sax, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, declined to comment, stating the nonprofit's policy to not comment on internal decisions. The center was not a sponsor of the fundraiser. Teague said community center officials told Planned Parenthood that several Catholic members of the Jewish Community Center had started to pressure the center to cancel the rental contract for the fundraiser. "We're disappointed that they pulled out on such short notice," Teague said. "A huge number of our major donors are members of the JCC. They're very upset, obviously, that the community center did that with such short notice. We're disappointed that they didn't take a stronger stance. Basically, they've caved to a bunch of bullies." That move comes as Planned Parenthood became a target of Republicans nationally after anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded video of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing the sale of fetal tissues. Planned Parenthood has said the videos were heavily edited and that the organization does not profit from medical research on fetuses. House votes to block Planned Parenthood funds The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Republican members of Congress, approved a bill Friday that would enact a one-year moratorium on Planned Parenthood's federal funding. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., isn't expected to have enough votes to pass in the U.S. Senate. President Barack Obama has said he would veto any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. A Facebook group called "Protest Planned Parenthood Nashville" claimed victory earlier this week after learning that Planned Parenthood would have to change venues for its fundraiser. "Major victory," the group wrote. "Due to much prayer and a coordinated effort by GJCC members, the Jewish Pro-life Foundation and Protest PP Nashville; the Gordon Jewish Community Center has canceled the October 1 Planned Parenthood fundraiser at their facility!!! This is incredible news!"Hello Summer Tennessee lawmakers push more regulation of Planned Parenthood The Jewish Community Center, funded in part by the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allows membership to people of all faiths. The center has athletics and recreational facilities, offers arts and cultural programming and has a preschool as well as opportunities for seniors. Teague told The Tennessean that he was informed of the Jewish Community Center's decision Sept. 10. Cecily Routman, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Jewish Pro-life Foundation, sent a letter dated Sept. 10 to the Gordon Jewish Community Center asking it to return Planned Parenthood's rental deposit. Sax, of the Jewish Community Center, said she had not seen the letter. Planned Parenthood under scrutiny in Tennessee, nation
In the letter, Routman references the upcoming Yom Kippur holy season for Jews as she makes a case against Planned Parenthood. "There are Jews who pride themselves on well-justified beliefs of justice and fairness regarding the status and experience of the unborn child in the mother's womb," Routman's letter reads. "These beliefs, based on a finite view of life, are far removed from the eternal, spiritual truths that are examined during these holy days. They are far removed from the undeniable scientific truths of the early stages of human life. Sadly, these beliefs overlook the criminal truths recently uncovered about the practices of Planned Parenthood.
"The Gordon Jewish Community Center has rented space on Oct. 1, 2015 to the sponsors of a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee," the letter continues. "The decision to rent the space for this purpose is a departure from the center's normally family-friendly and community enhancing programming. It casts a shadow of spiritual and intellectual ignorance on the leadership of the center, and makes them complicit in the criminal activity of Planned Parenthood. "The disturbing reality prompts a call to action from those in the Nashville community of faith. We urge the leadership of the Gordon Jewish Community Center to examine their consciences in light of the Holy Days upon them, and to return the rental deposit."

  T8/3/17he Jewish and Pro-Life: Still a Minority, No Longer a Contradiction In Terms      8/3/17
Pro-life voices in the Jewish community are growing louder, challenging long-standing discourse on the issue.
 In June, Missouri state legislators were called back to Jefferson City for a special session where Governor Eric Greitens tried to push through legislation significantly limiting access of women in the state to abortions. (Editor's note: on July 25, the Senate approved the bill which further regulates abortion in the state, and whose provisions include giving the attorney general power to prosecute violations, limiting those allowed to counsel on abortions to physicians where previously nurses and licensed counselors could provide counsel, as well as making it a crime for abortion clinic staff to ask ambulances responding to calls not to use lights or sirens, among other provisions).
Other red states have passed similar laws, but the one Greitens wants stands out because Greitens is the unlikely figure in the center.
Jewish Republicans like Greitens have historically avoided entering the minefield of abortion politics. Even those who had considered themselves pro-life preferred not to highlight the issue lest they jeopardize their natural supporters in the Jewish community who are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights. Yet Greitens is asking Missouri lawmakers to pass some of the strictest anti-abortion regulations in the country (the Supreme Court struck down similar rules in Texas).
For Jewish abortion opponents, who are used to living on the sidelines of the Jewish communal discourse, Greitens's move was a welcome overture. "I think the governor of Missouri is a hero," said Cecily Routman, who founded the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, a small not-for-profit organization promoting anti-abortion views in the Jewish community. "He gives pro-life Jews the voice we need."
And in the current political era, where conservatism has taken over Washington and pro-life activists are emboldened, this voice, once absent from the Jewish communal discourse, is now making itself heard. Greitens may be a hero to Jewish pro-lifers, but he is not alone in his convictions.
Taking his first step into politics last year, Greitens, a tough-talking conservative with an impressive military and academic background, clearly expressed his views on abortion.
"I believe that every life is precious. I am pro-life, and I very strongly believe we must promote life, defend life, and that in a free society, no person should have their tax money taken from them and spent on organizations like Planned Parenthood, that engage in activities that are, quite simply, barbaric," he said.
Those words are boilerplate for any conservative candidate in America's heartland. But Greitens pushed for legislative action and turned the abortion issue into the main focus of his first year in the governor's mansion.
Fellow red state Jewish Republican David Kustoff is just as tough on abortion as Greitens. "I will always fight for the West Tennessee values we so strongly believe in. I believe life begins at conception," Kustoff, a first-term congressman, stated when he ran for office. When asked if there are any circumstances under which abortions should be allowed, Kustoff replied, "Should not be allowed; no exceptions." He also supports full defunding of Planned Parenthood clinics.
Ohio Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is running for the Senate in 2018, signed a pledge of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati "opposing abortion on demand without exception," though he struck a slightly more moderate tone by noting that he believes in exceptions to protect the life of the mother.
Rep. Lee Zeldin from New York, perhaps reflecting the more liberal views of his constituents, holds a pro-life approach while agreeing to more exceptions, including support for abortions in cases of rape or incest.
Making opposition to abortion a pillar of Jewish conservatism is still a daunting task - even with Greitens's pronounced focus on the issue and with other Jewish Republicans feeling free to speak out, it hasn't been taken up by Jewish conservative organizations, and no major Jewish donors have provided backing.
Still, some Jews who oppose abortion have found in the new administration an opportunity to cooperate fully with the broader pro-life movement.
Routman and her colleagues attend the annual March for Life event in Washington, D.C. which enjoyed atypical prominence this year because of the participation of Vice President Mike Pence. The group carried a banner stating they are pro-life Jews.
"I learned a lot and I decided to associate myself with the pro-life movement," the 58-year-old Pennsylvania social worker said. "Most of my interactions with pro-life Christians were good."
Routman founded the Jewish Pro-life Foundation in 2006 because she felt Jewish liberals wrongly claim that pro-choice is the Jewish way. "That didn't sound kosher," she said, "so we decided we need a Jewish voice in the public square." The group focuses on education, not political advocacy, and has hardly any financial assets, according to tax filings. Routman, who grew up Conservative and now attends a traditional synagogue, feels the Jewish community stifles pro-life voices. "We have a genetic feeling for compassion, for tikkun olam [repairing the world], but we never talk about the pain of these unborn babies."
Routman sees there have been small signs of change in recent years. As a sign of growing awareness in the Jewish community of pro-life positions, she pointed to a Baltimore-based organization - In Shifra's Arms - that provides "Jewish support for pregnant women." She also noted the work of Simcha Felder, a Democratic New York State senator who holds strong pro-life views and has recently succeeded in derailing an abortion rights bill.
These pro-life voices in politics join a long-standing opposition to abortion by those in Orthodox circles, who decry what they refer to as "abortion on demand." Still, Orthodox Jews are usually reluctant to join forces with pro-lifers regarding access to abortion clinics, imposing hurdles on the work of doctors and facilities providing abortions, parental notification, waiting periods and limitations on abortions in cases of risk to the mother's health.
"Our theological approach doesn't fit in with the pro-life movement," said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president of federal affairs at Agudath Israel of America, an ultra-Orthodox group. The organization has broken ranks with pro-life on many pieces of legislation, including those stating that human life begins at conception.
In a Jewish communal environment dominated by liberal pro-choice activism, Cohen said Orthodox Jews feel that it is incumbent upon them "to set the record straight and to present the true view of the Torah" on abortions - and the Trump era gives them a better chance to do so. This view shares little with the liberal consensus in the Jewish community, but it is also different from the conservative Christian approach of the pro-life movement. It manifests itself in a unique thread of anti-abortion philosophy, which focuses on Jewish demography more than on the status of the unborn baby.
This approach was in full view on June 15, when dozens of Jewish activists and conservative lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill to pay tribute to Efrat, an Israeli organization working for the past four decades to dissuade women from choosing abortion by providing them financial support and educational material. As participants cheered Senator Rand Paul and four House members who praised the group and delivered pro-life messages, it was clear that Efrat's focus is different.
"You can be pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. It's the mother's choice and we help her," said Ezra Friedlander, a New York-based public relations executive who organized Efrat's Capitol Hill reception. "This approach can be replicated in America. When the woman hesitates because of financial reasons, Efrat comes and helps with all her needs." Each year 50,000 pregnancies are terminated in Israel, said Efrat's founder, Eli Schussheim, adding that the organization has helped 70,000 women over four decades rethink their decision to end their pregnancy.
"Efrat's work dovetails perfectly with the work of the ZOA," said Joshua London, co-director of government relations at the Zionist Organization of America, a hawkish Jewish organization. He said the group is the "most effective organization" at solving Israel's demographic issue, and expressed his amazement that despite Israel's perilous security situation, "yidden [Yiddish for "Jews"] should be aborting babies simply because of economic concerns."
Courtesy of Forward

Calling Christians and Jews to Send a Pro-Life E-mail to Rabbi Weiner
Please take a moment and send an e-mail/and or picture to Rabbi Weiner for his work with Planned ParenthoodBy Joyce Richey (Patch Contributor) - Updated July 2, 2017 7:49 pm ET
Since I do not have a Jewish Pro-Life group in my area, I try to work as much as I can with my local Christian brothers and sisters, BUT NOW I NEED THEIR HELP, as well as the help of other Jewish Pro-Life activists.
There is a protest going on against one of our misguided Rabbis who is working with Planned Parenthood. I try not to ask too much of my friends, but this is important to me and to the Pro-Life movement. I ask
that you take a few moments of your time and send an e-mail to: RabbiWeiner@TINR.ORG.
I’ve included my e-mail below, but of course you can choose to write whatever you want to. We MUST ALL STAND TOGETHER, as abortion is an abomination to all people of every faith that follows the words of the Creator. If it is easier, just copy and paste one of the following pictures and e-mail it to him. One picture is worth a thousand words!
“Your biography says: “Judaism is not a spectator sport. One must engage Judaism in every way possible: from prayer to learning, from protest to visiting the sick, from visiting Israel regularly to feeding
the homeless.” He believes that “Judaism is at its best when spirituality and action are paired.”
“Judaism emphasizes the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, making it incumbent upon Jews to find alternative life saving ways to deal with unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Adoption and single parenthood are much better choices for Jews than the intentional killing of an innocent life. Indeed, Judaism insists that a Jew break all the Sabbath rules to save the life of a fetus. Judaism prohibits desecrating the human body, but abortion destroys a human body, and the
harvesting of baby parts for profit runs contrary to Jewish respect for the dead.
Our Jewish tradition provides clear guidelines to follow regarding the protection of unborn human life. From Genesis 9:6-7, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood within man, shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man. And you, be fruitful, and multiply; swarm in the earth, and multiply therein“, to Deuteronomy 30:19, where our Heavenly Father clearly declares, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.“
In the Zohar, our mystical sages warn us of disturbing human unborn life, “For there are three [persons] who drive away the Shekkinah (indwelling of God ) from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, Blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe and causing prayer to be unanswered…..{The third is} he who causes the fetus to be destroyed in the womb, for he destroys the artifice of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His workmanship…… For these abominations the Spirit of Holiness weeps.”
AS A JEW AND A PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST, I am embarrassed for and by this Rabbi, who in my humble opinion, shouldn’t even have the title of “Rabbi” in front of his name. He is not a good example of a Rabbi, or of Jewish Law.
Despite the fact that the Rabbi’s e-mail said he was on a month long vacation and could not respond, he managed to respond to my e-mail within a half hour or so, in the most disrespectful way possible, a way that NO RABBI would ever talk to a fellow human being, let alone a fellow Jew. Apparently the money he gets for being on Planned Parenthood’s Board of Directors has outweighed his humanity and his training in Jewish Law when it comes to the sanctity of life. I find it very interesting that when the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation sent him e-mails and literature about abortion, he failed to take them on, but decided to take me, as a single individual on with his insults and disrespect.What did you think? Originally published July 2, 2017.

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