Next week's Torah reading will begin the book of Exodus.
In conjunction with the treasured story in Exodus 1 of the brave Hebrew midwives who saved babies rather than killed them as ordered by Pharaoh, Israel's chief rabbis are launching a campaign against Jewish self-extermination: abortion.
The Jewish pro-life group Efrat estimates 50k Israeli children are killed by abortion annually, 30k of which are illegal.
The rabbis say this plays into the enemy's hands, according to the Jerusalem Post on December 29:
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Metzger told The Jerusalem Post that it was important to encourage fertility and discourage abortions, in part, to fight a demographic war. "I am sorry to say that our enemies are multiplying," said Metzger....
Rabbis have a role in encouraging their communities to have children and to discourage abortions. It is the best weapon against our enemies," Metzger said....
Furthermore, abortion delays redemption, according to the rabbis:
Reference made in the rabbis' letter to the connection between abortions and the final redemption is based on the Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Niddah which states that each baby that is born brings the redemption closer. "The redemption does not take place until all the souls are brought out of their storing place," states the Talmud.
Rabbis "are urged to devote their Shabbat sermon next week... to emphasizing the severe halachic prohibition against abortions," according to The Post. They are also urging the distribution of pro-life literature.
Of course, there is Jewish dissent, which in my mind is inexplicable given Jewish history, particularly 20th Century. But here goes:
Irit Rosenblum, head of New Family, an organization fighting to prevent religious influence in marital and birth issues, said the rabbinate's initiative constituted blatant intervention by men in women's decisions regarding their bodies.
"You have bunch of men, who do not allow women to participate in their gatherings, who are telling women what to do with their bodies," said Rosenblum. "Why are they interfering? Do they think a woman does not know how to decide on her own what she does with her body?"