Last week, I served as faculty at Crane Lake Camp during staff orientation. Although camp is a “bubble”, separate from the real world, important news still seeps in. On Friday, we all heard about the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s 50-year precedent of protecting reproductive rights.
We immediately held an optional discussion session – which was attended by some international staff along with our American staff, but it wasn’t enough. We needed prayer and healing. I was asked to share some comments before Mi Shebeirach, and this is some of what I said:
Many of us are feeling a little broken now as we process the decision made by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Personally, I am angry and sad and scared. What does this mean for our country? Most importantly, what does this mean for the generations who will follow me?
In our morning blessings, we have prayers for our bodies and our souls. The prayer for our body thanks God for the miraculous gift that has been placed in our care. Dan Nichols, a Jewish singer/songwriter familiar to many of us, wrote a beautiful interpretation of that prayer, including these lyrics:
“I thank You for for my life, body and soul
Help me realize I am beautiful and whole
I’m perfect the way I am and a little broken too
I will live each day as a gift I give to you.”
Our bodies are beautiful and whole and perfect and broken.
The world is beautiful and whole and perfect and broken.
Our bodies, gifted from God, belong to us for as long as we’re alive. Friday morning, we were told that other people have permission to control what happens to our bodies – people who don’t know us, people who can’t begin to understand our experiences. Strangers are making decisions about an individual’s reproductive rights even if it is counter to that person’s religious beliefs and values.
The choice should belong only to us.
The last line of the lyrics above tell us to live each day as a gift to God. Our gift to God, to each other, and to our country is to live each day with Jewish values guiding our actions.
The chatimah (the signature/one-line summary) of the prayer for our bodies is Baruch atah Adonai rofei chol basar umafli laasot, loosely translated as: Thank you God; you can heal our bodies and make miracles happen.
As partners with God, we begin with healing; soon we will move toward action and the making of miracles to repair our broken world.
To listen to Dan Nichols’ song, I Am Perfect and I Am Broken, click here
Statement from the Union for Reform Judaism
Statement from the Central Conference of American Rabbis