April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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No, this isn’t about Moses. If you subscribe to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s daily news summary, it was there. It was story number four out of 12 that day. The headline didn’t seem right. “Israeli Government to Fund Abortions for Women Ages 20-33.” So I clicked through, and here is the story in its entirety:

Israeli women between the ages of 20 and 33 will be eligible to receive government-funded abortions in 2014. The new eligibility is part of the country’s state-subsidized basket of health services for 2014, approved on Monday. Currently, the government only pays for abortions for medical reasons and for girls under 18.

Some 6,300 women between ages 20 and 33 are expected to have abortions in Israel in 2014. All the women still will be required to receive the approval of a government panel before undergoing the procedure; the panel approves nearly all cases.

The head of the health basket committee, Jonathan Halevy of Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, said the goal is eventually to raise the covered age to 40.

Contraception is not covered in the health basket. The committee announced the approval of 83 new drugs and treatments for 2014. The basket still must be approved by the Ministry of Health and the Cabinet.

My body went numb and my mind went dizzy with thought. I ran it by a few people to see if I was misreading or misinterpreting what I had read.

First, let me state what this column is not about. It is not about women and their right to have an abortion. This is the 21st century and personal autonomy is a deeply important concept. In no way will I judge the woman who chooses to abort her pregnancy, who herself has multiple personal concerns that I could not begin to comprehend.

I am instead judging the Israeli Government. Read the story again if need be and then consider the following ramifications:

A country that is the eternal Jewish homeland is now proactively enabling the termination of 6,300 Jewish futures without offering the opportunity to create new Jewish families.

Thousands of Jewish, childless couples, in Israel and worldwide, are at this very moment yearning, crying, screaming out in pain to God to answer their prayers to grant them a child, and have to be in total disbelief right now, because…

Said country, our beloved Israel, does not allow for adoption outside of the country, as its founders feared that the removal of Jewish babies from Israel would lead to the disintegration of the Jewish future. So what provisions are being offered to childless couples? Where is their “Health Basket?”

The head of the Health Basket Committee is the highly respected Dr. Jonathan Halevy, CEO of Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, an institution that publicly identifies as traditional/Orthodox in its values. Dr. Halevy isn’t satisfied with the cutoff age being 33. He said, “The goal is to eventually raise the covered age to 40.” We are not talking here about immature young women who may have made some very poor errors in judgment. We are talking about mature women, who, with the right solution, may be amenable to participating in a matching program of some sort. Where is the creativity and effort of finding a “supply and demand” solution?

Have you ever spoken to a childless couple and heard their pain? Have you ever heard of Rabbi Grossman’s Migdal Ohr, a youth village in Israel for underprivileged children, and listened to a call from a man desperate for Rabbi Grossman’s help to legally figure a way to get a newborn baby out of the country for adoption? Are you familiar with OHEL’s Children’s Home, where women plead with God and the authorities to help them formally adopt their temporary foster care child as their own so they can finally be the mothers to the baby they dream of having?

A friend who lives in Efrat confirms that “we have good friends in Israel who were childless and adopted one and now two children. The process of adoption in Israel is especially bureaucratic and very time-consuming for those in Israel who seek to adopt children. It took many years to adopt one child and then many more years before authorities would even consider letting them adopt a second child.”

Thus, if the government of Israel wants to support these women who become pregnant and choose to abort an expected 6,300 Jewish souls in 2014, cannot someone figure out how to match pregnant women who don’t want their babies with couples desperate for Jewish souls? Should we not petition to have Israel’s no-adoption policy altered in some way?

Here’s a tangible suggestion: Might the Israel Ministry of Health explore a collaboration with an organization like OHEL in New York to at least offer such women an option of matching a couple for adoption of her unborn child. A two-year trial could achieve what two desperate people seek: a conclusion of one pregnancy with the simultaneous “birth” to a couple.

We made the desert bloom. Palm Trees grow in the Negev. Fish swim in lakes in Beer Sheva. Intel is firmly entrenched right near Migdal Ha’emek in the North. Israel is widely known, with thanks to the authors of the best-selling book, as The Start Up-Nation.

Somewhere, somehow, someone has to come up with a better plan. Dr. Jonathan Halevy and his Health Basket Committee have their work cut out for them. As the article states, the basket still must be approved by the Ministry of Health and by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Cabinet.

Raise your voices. Stand with your brothers and sisters screaming in pain who cannot yet have children. Demand solutions and provisions so that everyone who wants to have a baby in their basket might be able to.

By Robert Katz

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