Musing: Waters of Unlife

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A lengthy piece at the online magazine Tablet describes “new Jewish rituals” that “offer comfort to women who have had abortions.”  It begins with the story of a woman who, as a young graduate student, terminated two of her pregnancies and years later came to realize that a “spiritual, ritual way” of “marking the decision” to end the lives of her unborn children “would have helped in resolving” uncomfortable feelings she had experienced.

The woman discovered a group, Mayyim Hayyim, that utilizes a mikveh for that express purpose.  A liturgical rite, written by three women – a poet, a psychologist and a rabbi – asks the Creator for help “to begin healing from this difficult decision to interrupt the promise of life.”

According to Mayyim Hayyim’s executive director, Carrie Bornstein, “Oftentimes it’s helpful for people to say, ‘I’m going to move to the next stage of my life, whatever that might bring, and I’m not going to let that experience define me or take me over.’ ”

Another “post-abortion ritual” was devised by a graduate student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.  Yet another is in a book edited by four female Reform rabbis.

Actually, there already is a longstanding ritual for non-required abortions.  It’s called teshuva.

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