Hanukkah Blessings for Reproductive Justice

Hanukkah literally means “dedication,” and this year, I’ve been dedicating myself to expanding access to abortion care for all. Abortion access has become more and more tenuous as anti-choice legislators chip away at legal protections for folks seeking to terminate pregnancies. The addition of an anti-choice Supreme Court Justice to the bench leaves the constitutional right to abortion hanging in the balance. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the already-marginalized folks who struggle to access reproductive healthcare even further toward the margins. This Hanukkah, let us use the sparks from our candles to feed the flames of justice within all of us.

After reciting the traditional blessings over the candles, recite these prayers either out loud, or read them to yourself. 

Blessing for the Shamash

The shamash is the “helper” candle we use to light all of the other candles on our hanukkiahs. The shamash is instrumental in bringing forth light and spreading fire. May we all identify with the shamash and bring our own, unique sparks of justice to the movement for reproductive justice. As we observe the eight nights of Hanukkah, may we find new ways of contributing to the movement and bringing ourselves and our loved ones closer to a reality of reproductive freedom and justice for all. 

First Candle 

May I use the fire of this candle to lobby, call, and email my elected officials to hold them accountable for passing strong, progressive, pro-choice legislation like the EACH Woman Act, which will bring an end to the racist and classist Hyde Amendment, and the Women’s Health Protection Act, which will codify the protections won in Roe v. Wade. 

Second Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to pray with my feet as an escort and defender who walks patients into abortion clinics through seas of protesters, like Miriam who guided the women and children across the Red Sea. May all clinic escorts and defenders be safe and walk proudly. 

Third Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to respect the dignity of all people, kavod ha bri’ot, and work to end abortion stigma and share abortion stories. May we destigmatize multiple abortions, self-managed abortions, and abortions that are easy decisions. 

Fourth Candle 

May I use the fire of this candle to remember that not only straight, cis women have abortions, but people of all gender identities and sexualities. May we use inclusive language to talk about who gets abortions because we are all made in the image of the Divine, b’tselem elohim

Fifth Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to share our Hanukkah gelt to abortion funds and close financing gaps. May I see abortion funds as mutual aid, not charity, and donate to my local fund as I am able. 

Sixth Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to view pregnant people as moral agents who know how to make the best decisions for themselves. May we understand that those who are turned away from abortion care have worse economic and educational outcomes than those who are able to obtain care. May we respect that two-thirds of those seeking abortion care are already parents. 

Seventh Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to internalize the idea that reproductive freedom is a Jewish value and pikuach nefesh, the saving of a life, calls on us to choose abortion if the life of the pregnant person is in danger or threatened by their pregnancy. Abortion is health care and Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 336:1) commands that providing healthcare is integral to the commandment of ensuring life above all else. 

Eighth Candle

May I use the fire of this candle to connect abortion access to the wider movement for reproductive justice and to see these intersecting issues as necessary for securing our collective liberation.

This Hanukkah may we all be reminded of our commitment to justice, and use the flames of our candles to light a revolution. 

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This post sadly ignores the Jewish rule that supersedes all others, Pikuach Nefesh. Preserve life at all costs. Abortion takes life, rather than preserving it. So if abortion is considered 'reproductive justice,' it is never just for the unborn. Pikuach Nefesh.

How to cite this page

Black, Stephanie. "Hanukkah Blessings for Reproductive Justice." 8 December 2020. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/hanukkah-blessings-reproductive-justice>.

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