Thursday, March 23, 2023

(Courtesy of EFRAT) It’s no secret that saving lives is a very Jewish “thing.” But as we read specifically in this week’s parsha, displaying self-sacrifice to save lives is historically rooted specifically in the experience of the Jewish woman; the Jewish midwives in Egypt risked their own lives to save the next generation!

The EFRAT organization is known nationally and across the globe for following in the footsteps of these righteous women. In fact, as these lines are being written, the organization is celebrating 83,000 babies saved since 1977.

It’s important, though, to ponder also a deeper, more powerful implication: It’s not just about the babies. Thanks to EFRAT staff and volunteers, almost 83,000 women were able to have the baby that they ultimately wanted.


Her Own Decision

Yael, a married mother of two, was devastated when she found out she was expecting. “I really didn’t want another baby. We were struggling as it was. The thought of managing financially with another child terrified me,” she said. Her husband pressured her to have an abortion, and the decision was made. But Yael’s close friend encouraged her not to take any drastic action until she called EFRAT. The day before the scheduled abortion, Yael spoke to one of the volunteers at EFRAT. “She showed me that there were other options. And when I heard that EFRAT was willing to help me with the baby’s needs after the birth, it occurred to me that I could continue with the pregnancy.”

The next morning, Yael woke up with abdominal pain. Her doctor sent her to the ER, warning her that she might be in the midst of a miscarriage. “While my husband and I waited in the hospital for the test results, I couldn’t stop praying for this baby — the same baby I’d planned to abort. Finally, when the doctors told me that everything was okay, I was overjoyed. I couldn’t imagine the thought of losing this baby! With the promise of help from EFRAT, I could look forward to having my third child.”


Choose Life

Women in various challenging circumstances who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy are led to believe that abortion is the only option. Many of these women are married, yet due to economic distress, they feel incapable of supporting another child. Some are unmarried and under intense pressure, from their partner or other family members, to end the pregnancy and “move on with their lives.”

“We believe that women should have the right to make that decision for themselves,” says Nir Salmon, EFRAT’s executive director. “Organizations that help women terminate their pregnancies call themselves pro-choice. But where is the choice when a woman feels trapped into making a decision that may not reflect her true, inner desire?”


‘You Are Not Alone’

EFRAT provides women who are considering their options regarding their unborn child with access to the most precise, updated information relating to their physical and emotional health. But even more crucially, EFRAT’s message to women is that they are not alone. The organization is there to enable women to overcome this difficult period and to “move on with their lives” – together with their new baby!

EFRAT’s trained volunteers provide ongoing emotional support as well as a complete package that provides for all the needs that come with the birth of a new baby, including a crib, stroller, baby-bath and layette, as well as 24 monthly packages with diapers and wipes, food and formula. EFRAT’s system works so well, that for just $1,500, they can help another woman keep her baby!


No Such Thing as a Mistake

Shoshana was in dire financial straits when she found out that she was pregnant. At the time, she felt trapped and overwhelmed, and scheduled an abortion. Even when her sister called EFRAT and asked for a volunteer to speak to her, Shoshana told the volunteer not to call back.

“Immediately afterward, I felt terrible regret. I became depressed and found it difficult to function. I’d thought that having an abortion would save my financial situation, but now I could barely drag myself to work every day,” Shoshana relates.

Shoshana works as a receptionist at a large hospital in Jerusalem. Several months later, a woman came to her office asking to pay the abortion committee fee.

“She came to me by mistake, but instead of explaining her error I sat her down with a coffee and asked her if she wanted to discuss the matter,” says Shoshana. “I could tell she was relieved to have someone to talk to.”

As it turned out, this woman had a story that was similar to Shoshana’s. Deeply in debt, she felt unable to afford a baby.

“While speaking to this woman, I couldn’t hold back my tears,” Shoshana relates. “I shared with her my story and my feelings that I had made a terrible mistake in giving up the pregnancy. I gave her money for a taxi to the EFRAT office and made sure someone would be waiting for her when she arrived.”

When she heard about all the assistance and support that EFRAT provided, the woman agreed to reassess, and ended up keeping her baby.


Branching Out

EFRAT is not only committed to supporting women in Israel. For years EFRAT has helped other organizations, locally and around the world, to bring this issue out into the open and empower women in other communities. In a new exciting development, EFRAT will be branching out to the US in the coming year, with a national center to be based in Florida.

“During my frequent trips overseas, I’m always approached by people who are in great need of our services,” said Salmon. “They tell me that there are many Christian organizations offering assistance, but sadly, little is available within the Jewish community. We plan to breach that gap and bring our rich experience and strategy to US Jewry.”

EFRAT has shown that with a relatively small effort, it’s possible to accomplish something as huge as saving a life – a world! For more information and to partner with EFRAT, please visit www.cribefrat.org, call 718-697-7022 or email [email protected].

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