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50 years since Roe v. Wade. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion. And, just in time, the case is back in the news, with the Supreme Court announcing yesterday that its investigators could not locate the source of the leak of the draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned Roe last June.
We looked back at half a century of the Forward’s coverage of abortion — including some of what we published when Politico first published the leaked draft prefacing Roe’s demise.
How the Jewish community woke up to abortion rights: After the Dobbs decision, our Arno Rosenfeld did a deep dive into the history of the National Council of Jewish Women and its struggle to galvanize Jewish funders and leaders to the cause. “It was very hard to get a head of steam because nobody ever believed Roe would be overturned,” one leader told him. “Ha, ha, ha.” Read the story ➤
My abortion story — because it’s true and we should not be afraid to talk about it. As the Supreme Court prepared to hear Dobbs, our editor-in-chief, Jodi Rudoren, shared a moving personal account of the complexities of abortion often overlooked in political debates.
“Mine is perhaps not the most compelling story in making the case for choice,” she wrote. But Roe gave her “the constitutional right to choose how to build my family” — and she knows her twin teenagers are “only here” because of the two abortions she had before their birth. Read the column ➤
Plus: Join the conversation — on Monday at 7 p.m., Jodi is moderating a Hadassah-hosted virtual panel discussion featuring a Planned Parenthood doctor, a state legislator from Washington and the founder of the JANE underground abortion network. Register for the free virtual event here ➤
We did what we had to — a teen abortion tale from 1969. In 2016, Larry Cohler-Esses turned his reporter’s pen on his own past, digging deep into his adolescent adventure helping a friend get an abortion before Roe. “We were living in the last throes of the nation’s increasingly unpopular state abortion laws,” he wrote. But as teenagers seeking to help a friend in need, all he and his cohort knew was that they faced a monumental task — one that turned out to be rife with hidden dangers. Read the story ➤
Plus: A few weeks before Dobbs, Larry spoke to a 90-year-old rabbi who was part of the underground network of clergy that helped people like his old friend obtain illegal abortions.
‘My dark secret’: Orthodox women share their abortion stories: In 2018, several women shared their personal experiences with Avital Chitzhik-Goldschmidt, a former Forward editor who is also an Orthodox rebbetzin.“There is a story of two layers here: There is an official story, of rigid policy, a community that is publicly anti-abortion-rights,” she wrote. “What is not told is the white space in between those black letters — what happens when halacha collides with real life.” Read the story ➤
A simulated conversation with the artificial intelligence version of Holocaust architect and Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler .
A new artificial intelligence chat app lets you talk to virtual high-ranking Nazis. Ever wondered, say, what Joseph Goebbels might say about the Holocaust some 80 years later? Or how Henry Ford would reflect on his well-documented antisemitism? A new app uses artificial intelligence to simulate answers — to, uh, mixed results. “Is the AI ghost of Henry Ford going to be honest to these potential history students about his deeply held antisemitism?” asked one critic. “The answer to that is a profound ‘no.’” Read the story ➤
In a reversal, Harvard offered a fellowship to a critic of Israel. A media storm had erupted after Kenneth Roth, the former director of Human Rights Watch and a strong critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, had an offer for a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government withdrawn.Now, Harvard is welcoming Roth and the official who made the initial decision said he’d made a mistake. “I am sorry that the decision inadvertently cast doubt on the mission of the school,” he said in a statement, “and our commitment to open debate in ways I had not intended.” Read the story ➤
Man accused of threatening Michigan Jews charged with trying to purchase guns illegally. Court documents say that Hassan Chokr, who faces charges for planning an attack on a Michigan Jewish community, lied while purchasing firearms as part of his plot. Chork used troubling rhetoric while attempting to buy the guns, according to an indictment, saying that he would use them to execute “God’s wrath” at a synagogue. Read the story ➤
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Rep. George Santos outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 12. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
👀 George Santos used a fake Jewish name to run a dubious GoFundMe page, his former roommate says. Gregory Morey-Parker, who met Santos in 2014 and lived with him for a few months, said that Santos used the name Anthony Zabrovsky to run a venture that claimed to raise money for sick pets. “He would say, ‘Oh well, the Jews will give more if you’re a Jew,’” Morey-Parker said. “And so that’s the name he used for his GoFundMe.” (Insider)
😥 Two prominent Orthodox Jews from Cleveland were killed in a private plane crash outside New York City. (Times of Israel)
😔 The U.K.’s Arsenal football club is investigating two allegations of antisemitism among its fans. One Jewish fan said she was called a “dirty yid” at a pub while cheering for Arsenal over the weekend. “We recognise the impact this behavior has on our many Jewish supporters and others,” the team said in a statement, “and condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society.” (Arsenal, Jewish Chronicle)
🍖 Lab-grown meat is pareve, Israel’s chief rabbi ruled. But companies growing the product from stem cells will need to declare their product vegetarian, according to the ruling, and shouldn’t market it to be used with dairy products. (Jerusalem Post)
❗ A conservative advocacy group parked a truck outside the homes of two students at UC Berkeley law school accusing them of antisemitism. Responding to the decision last fall by nine student groups at the law school to ban outside speakers who support Israel, the group, Accuracy in Media, had previously taunted the students will mobile billboards to showcase an image of Hitler alongside the slogan “All in favor of banning Jews raise your right hand” — a campaign that itself drew charges of antisemitism. (J. The Jewish News of Northern California)
🎼 A new opera about the life of Anne Frank will premiere this spring. The work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Shulamit Ran was commissioned by Indiana University, and will be conducted by the son of Holocaust survivors. (News at IU)
What else we’re reading ➤ A Jerusalem gallery censored an artist’s nude paintings — then claimed it never happened … Uncovering a family’s Sephardic history in the quest for Portuguese citizenship … The trouble with mainstream antisemitism reporting.
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In this weekend’s edition of our print magazine: A new ADL survey finds 20% of Americans think Jews “have too much power;” fallout after an anonymous man exposed his genitals during an Orthodox influencer’s livestream; the secret Jewish history of a White Sox star; and more. Download your copy now ➤
Fans of Disney’s “High School Musical” wait to see its stars in concert in 2006 (Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
On this day in history (2006): High School Musical premiered on the Disney Channel. It quickly became a beloved teen classic — including in Israel, which in 2008 became the third country to produce a stage adaptation of the film. At the time, the Forward reported, the movie was “the most viewed offering ever on HOT V.O.D., the on-demand service of the country’s largest cable provider.”
Last year on this day, we reported that two non-Jewish members of Congress – one named Bacon – launched a ‘Torah values’ caucus.
On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a prolific author and philosopher, who died in 1888.
In honor of National Cheese Lovers Day, read about how the story of cream cheese is the story of Jews in America.
( WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
A worker at Warsaw’s POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews showed off recently-discovered negatives chronicling the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on Wednesday. The previously unknown images were found in the private archive of Maciej Grzywaczewski, whose father, a Polish firefighter, took them in the brutal aftermath of the uprising.
Photographs developed from the negatives will go on display in April, and are remarkable, said one historian, for going “beyond the German perspective, the perspective of executioners showing Jews as dehumanized, anonymous victims.” Read the story ➤
Thanks to Benyamin Cohen for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].