To say that the Hadassah program, Women’s Reproductive Freedom from a Jewish Perspective on October 15 was informative, dynamic and impactful would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a nice ditch.
Led by Heather Booth, an advocate for social justice and a warrior for change; U.S. Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, a champion of equality and reproductive rights in Virginia and the United States; Delegate Eileen Filler Corn, the first woman and Jewish woman to be Speaker of the House for the Virginia House of Delegates; and Elizabeth Cullen, Hadassah’s Director of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., and others, the room of over 125 men and women were treated to a rousing call to “do the work and make a difference!”
Keynote Speaker Heather Booth in 1963 at Yad Vashem made a commitment in the face of injustice that she would work for Tikum Olam and help repair and change the world.
One year later she went to Mississippi for the Freedom Summer Project where she took the lesson that you need to work for justice to have justice. And since then, she has never stopped advocating for social justice and the rights of women. “Do the work!” is Booth’s rallying cry- whether it is working to protect women’s rights, get out the vote or educate others on positions and policies.
Booth’s opening comment at the program was “If we organize, we can change the world.”
She feels we are at a “knife’s edge” in this country with many freedoms in the balance. We have choices on freedoms- freedom to vote- to have elections that count and matter; freedom to thrive; reproductive freedoms, and more.
“Freedom is on the ballot in November” and we all need to make a difference to organize and educate! She feels elections matter more than ever now and we all need to follow moral values to protect our most intimate freedoms.
McClellan followed Booth with her own rallying cry that “in this country, every time we have made progress on social justice and expanding rights, there is a backlash and that we are in that backlash right now.”
She said we have to fight for these rights so that our children and grandchildren don’t have to. She does not want her eight-year-old daughter to have fewer rights than she does!
She reiterated two very different but similar points: The U.S. stands with Israel and abortion is on the ballot this year in Virginia. She says on both fronts, statistics and anger are okay, but personal stories, talking to your legislators and friends, and doing what you can to be the change are what matters.
Other speakers and committee advocates included Ann Eisenberg, Gail Moskowitz, Cheri Wolff, Miriam Davidow, Dr. Sarah Krantz-Ciment, Arlene Wiener, Hadassah Richmond Chapter President; Hadassah Region President Sharon Goretsky and Dr. Megan Cohen, Assistant Professor in the Division of Complex Family Planning at Emory University.
Questions followed both presentations and a luncheon followed for further conversation and discussion.
More about Heather Booth can be found online and in the films The Janes on Netflix, Call Jane and Heather Booth: Changing the World all available on many streaming services. Jennifer McClellan’s information is at https://jennifermcclellan.com/ and Eileen Filler Corn is at https://www.eileenfillercorn.com/.
Some more photos: