Articles from Issue 9

The following are sample articles from Issue 9. Click here or contact to order the full zine in hard copy or PDF format.

Nine Moons of Pregnancy (by Hadass Ben-Ari)
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We all start at the uterus, attached to our mother with an umbilical cord, entering this world passing through the vagina (c-sections aside). I’ve never experienced pregnancy, and I’ve never given birth or had an abortion. But knowing that I have the ability, the power and the right to do all of the above is thrilling.
What I find ironic, however, is that although abortions are legal in Israel, it is such an enormous taboo in Israeli Jewish society, mostly because it is a society that encourages a high birth rate, praises parents who have a lot of children and pities those who don’t have any. This is true especially in religious Jewish societies where parents have something like a dozen kids, because contraception is also a taboo (and actually considered a sin in ultra-orthodox circles). It seems that even for the most desperate women in Israel who wish to get an abortion, it would be more painful and agonizing to terminate the pregnancy than to keep the child, because of these social pressures.
The way I see it, if the Mother Goddess, in Her infinite wisdom, decides that this little creature growing inside your body should skip this material dimension and move up to the next level, She will induce a divine abortion, i.e. a miscarriage. The Mother Goddess gave us the ability to understand that existence extends far beyond our limited perception of it. So that tiny creature never lived, never died, just made a quick visit to the material world and moved on to the next without really experiencing it.
But if you’re reading this, you are one of those who managed to survive a divine abortion. And surviving it means that while our mothers gave us our matter, and the Goddess gave us our divinity, both gave us the ability to know what is best for our body and soul, and gave us complete control over what this body and soul wish to create or not create. This is where our innate freedom of choice, bestowed upon us by the Goddess Herself, comes from. This complete control and freedom of choice is often limited or taken by jealous male-dominated authorities and patriarchic societies around the world who feel they have a divine duty to keep every woman in check.
I bet if men could get pregnant, abortion would not only be legal, it would be a right protected by a constitutional amendment, sponsored by the government, covered by health care and life insurance, and even sanctioned by religious authorities.
But men do not get pregnant. Women do, BECAUSE of men. So men are in no position to control our bodies. If I choose to be pregnant, even if I am not married, it is my innate biological right. If my Riot Grrrl sister decides to terminate her pregnancy, it is her innate biological right. And if my ladies around the world wanna use their ovaries to their full potential and have a whole load of kids, or avoid it through celibacy or contraception, it is also their innate biological right – to their body, their sanity and their life.
This issue includes both pro-life and pro-choice pieces, because choice extends to all levels of the pregnancy spectrum. It also includes a section on our grandmothers who gave us life, and also fought for our rights in the first two waves of the Feminist Movement. And as always, the Riot Grrrl Corner featuring the birth mothers of Rock for Choice, L7.

The Mother Goddess is Pro-Choice (by Hadass Ben-Ari)
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Too Tiny for Her Buggy (by Sue Tourkin-Komet)
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Jewish Single Mom by Choice (by Dr. Lea-Ora Leeder)
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Non-Mom's Rights (by Shira Lynn Pruce)
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December, Not April (by LaMesha Melton)
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Clinics Can't Always Amend (by Hannah Greenberg)
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Choosing Life (by Ruth Tidhar)
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“Hello, is this Ruthy from EFRAT? I am calling from the hospital to let you know that I gave birth yesterday to a beautiful baby girl! When I think about what I went through to have her… What if I hadn’t gotten to EFRAT, what if I had done ‘it’?”
As the social worker for the EFRAT Organization, this is a phone call that I get several times a week from women who came to us for consultation at the beginning of their pregnancy, when they were trying to decide whether or not to have their baby. This time the phone call was from Rina (a pseudonym, of course).
Our story began last autumn, on a cool November Jerusalem day. Rina came to our office to ask our help in deciding what to do. She was in her mid-thirties, tall and thin with a pretty face and dark blond hair. Her hands were constantly and nervously twisting a tissue, wet with tears. She was pregnant, in her fourth month already, under enormous pressure to abort.
Rina was divorced with a 12 year old son. The son had been pretty traumatized by his parents’ rather ugly divorce and was in psychological treatment. Rina and her son had been living with Rina’s mother for years, ever since the divorce. Over the last few years, Rina’s father and two brothers died within a few months of each other in very upsetting circumstances. The mother herself was not well, both physically and emotionally.
The father of the pregnancy was a man that Rina had been seeing very seriously for over a year. He had urged Rina to stop using birth control because he wanted a baby with her and then they would get married, or so he said at the time.
When Rina became pregnant, the boyfriend had a total change of heart. He wanted nothing to do with Rina or the baby, in spite of everything he had said. When her family found out about the pregnancy, they were so mortified by the possibility of her being a single mother that they applied emotional and financial blackmail in order to force her to abort. Rina was asked by her mother to leave the house until she has an abortion. She stayed with different friends with her son, for a few days here and a few days there. Rina worked part time in a cosmetics shop, making minimum wage. She was unable to financially support herself and her son. Her ex-husband did not pay child support, nor did he visit his son.
After a few weeks of sleeping at different friends’ houses, she heard about the EFRAT Organization. She was absolutely at the end of her tether, ready to have an abortion totally against her inner wishes, only because of the pressure that was being laid on her. Rina was distraught, tearful and overwhelmed. She hated the idea of abortion because she really wanted the baby. I listened to her, commiserated with her and gave her, through the EFRAT Organization, a real chance at making her own decisions.
Again and again, I hear stories of women who are forced into having abortions by the men in their lives – their fathers, boyfriends and husbands. This is the case with over 95% of the women who turn to EFRAT for consultation.
Back to Rina - she received from EFRAT monthly financial help so that she was able to rent a room near her son’s school. Now that she has given birth, EFRAT will supply her baby with a crib, stroller, baby bath and EFRAT Baby Kit, including cloth diapers, clothing, a blanket, sheet, bottles and pacifiers. Each month for the coming year we will send her diapers and food. When she is ready to go back to work, I will refer her to her to our Family Rehabilitation Project which will help her pay for daycare. Throughout the pregnancy, she was in contact with an EFRAT volunteer who listened to her, encouraged her and obtained legal advice and food packages when she needed them.
In short, we were able to give Rina the support that she needed in order to do what she really wanted to do – have her beautiful baby.
I am hopeful that there will be some reconciliation between Rina and her family. Yesterday the mother came for a short visit. In our experience, once the baby is a real fact, the grandparents gradually come around and love the baby in spite of the beginning of the story.
EFRAT has been helping women make their own choice about continuing their pregnancy for over 32 years. We have 3000 volunteers in every town and city in Israel, many of them women who thought that they had no choice but to abort. After deciding to continue their pregnancy and having their baby, they were so pleased with the results that they feel the need to tell their story to other women in the same situation. Our volunteers befriend the women who turn to us and help them get the assistance that they need, both from EFRAT and from other local tzedaka organizations.
If you know of a pregnant woman who is trying to decide whether or not to have her baby, refer her to EFRAT: 02-6536212 or
For more information, visit our website:

Children (by Yahm Reichart)
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Children are a problem for me. Not really a problem, but I find it difficult to connect with them for more than half an hour at a time. Children tend to gravitate towards me, they want to play with me, they want to talk to me, show me things. My dad always said it’s because I’m genuine in my responses. For example, when my niece was four and she wanted to play instead of eating dinner and began throwing a tantrum because I wanted to eat, I said, “I’m going inside to eat. You can come eat or not. Up to you. We’ll see about playing after dinner. Maybe. I’m not promising.” And then I just walked inside. She came after me, ate as much as four-year-olds do, and then when I didn’t want to play, she just let it go.
This is what kids need, say the people around me: an adult who says no and who stands by it. So, at least in this respect, people reason, I will be an excellent mom. And maybe because I don’t buy my nieces Bratz dolls but books with strong female protagonists for their birthday.
It stresses me out to think of being a mother. I can’t imagine myself being so selfless like a mother should be. (Or should she?) Why in the world would I live for someone else when I have worked so hard to live for myself, doing only what makes me happy? It seems like that’s a step backwards.
It’s quite a coincidence that this issue is about motherhood in its various forms because I recently found out that one of my sisters-in-law will be having a baby boy around Passover. After the good news that he’s healthy, (after she took a scary placenta test involving a camera going up her cervix with no anesthetic), she said that there’s an old wife’s tale that says that if a week-old baby boy pees on a woman, she’ll be able to conceive easier. (The power of the penis, eh?) So I immediately said, “Let’s make sure that DOESN’T happen” and we laughed. But I was uncomfortable at the thought of being a mother, even as a joke.
I suppose my uncomfortable feelings stem from not meeting with the societal expectations that as a woman I will (1) find babies and children cute, (which I usually don’t), (2) want to hold them and play with them (which I, again, usually don’t), and (3) want my own (which I don’t).
I have had many dreams where I’m happily pregnant, but when it’s time to give birth, I cry and beg to not have to do it. I wake up with tears in my eyes and all in a panic because the last thing I really want is a baby. I just want to feel what it’s like to be pregnant. I want to have a gigantic tummy to rub without being unhealthily obese. I want for people to be happy for me and my gigantic tummy because then it’s legitimate to be so large. But that’s it. No giving birth (vaginal or caesarian) or a baby to deal with afterwards.
I don’t have a solution to my uncomfortable reaction to comments about my assumed future desire for motherhood. I recognize that these feelings towards motherhood may change. Perhaps I will one day meet the right woman and I will want to be the “father-esque”-mother to her babies. Maybe I will donate my eggs for other women who are dying to conceive but can’t. Maybe I’ll be a surrogate mother. Maybe I will never have children and just be there for my nieces and nephews as the cool aunt who can talk about anything and likes to give books and tickets to rock concerts as birthday gifts.
In the end, I know that if I do decide to have children, it will be because I really want them and not because I’m caving into societal pressure to have them. And I’m fine with that because I think that’s the way it should be. Children should be born out of love, and not for any other reason. Yet, it seems that society is telling me, “Listen, your philosophizing is nice, but let’s be serious: you are a woman, therefore, make babies.” To which I can only respond with, “I am more than my uterus, fucker, so shut the fuck up.”

What's in a Name? (by Yasmin Eshref)
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I Miss Him (by Jessi Edwards)
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Choice for All (by Shira Lynn Pruce)
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Personally, I don’t get why people have kids. They’re smelly, they’re loud and eventually they leave you and rebel against everything you tried to instill in them. But I do believe in choice and if you chose to make smelly, loud babies, then, well, good for you, I guess.
The thing is, choice is choice. If a straight woman can choose to keep or end her pregnancy, if a straight man can choose to stand up and father the impregnation he caused, then anyone, no matter how they identify- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or straight - should be able to choose the same for themselves. Problem is, the LGBT community has less conventional, accessible, affordable and “socially accepted” ways of making this brave choice.
Adoption, insemination, surrogacy, shared parenting and other methods of having babies are becoming more available - although still not readily enough - to the LGBT community. Though often expensive and difficult, these methods have managed to sustain an awesome baby boom in LGBT communities all over the free world. And it’s really exciting
I’ve seen my friends begin and continue their families but I realize that having a close glimpse into the LGBT community is a privilege that not all people have, especially in homophobic, conservative Jerusalem. So let me let you in to a great world of colorful families.
As a fag-hag, I am honored everyday to closely know a community that, while contributing fully to society, including everything from paying taxes to serving in the army, is afforded less rights overall. Marriage is only the tipping point of the inequalities from access to proper health care and reproductive options.
The dream to be a parent, while not swimming around in my head at night, knows no socially constructed boundaries. My gay and lesbian friends are starting to plan their families along with my straight friends but it can be a struggle. Finding the right method, doing so with a partner or without, getting legal rights to your child, and in many cases, finding the money and legal measures to create or adopt your child - can be difficult. And seeing these struggles, I wish that I could take away the roadblocks between my giving, caring friends and the child they dream of. Because how could it be anything but natural for a person full of love, understanding differences and overcoming hardship, determination to accept all and be accepted, to make a great parent?
And then the baby comes. Now, most babies, we hope, come into the world to meet loving family and friends. But LGBT family babies are so celebrated by the community, still new to these great tiny little miracles. The grandparents, at the beginning of their child’s coming out process, possibly never thought they would see grandchildren. The parents worked so hard to make this baby and dreamed of it since long before it’s conception and delivery home. And friends, like me, can’t contain their happiness for this new tiny baby and know that it is going to be cherished, cared for, nurtured and accepted for everything that they are.
Having children is a choice that everyone deserves to make, without exception. Women in Iran and Mea Shearim deserve abortion rights. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender men and women deserve the right to create and give a great life to a child, if they want to be parents. But more than deserving these rights, they are integral to allowing each person, no matter how they identify, to live the fullest life that they dream for themselves.
(Check out Shira's blog here)

Wardrobe Woman (by Yasmin Eshref)
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A crack in the two doors, the gap
A slit, pulled open and split
Housing a singular coat hanger
And a singular hanger on,
The next big thing, draped in red satin,
Is dripping down her thighs
Metal meets cervix then with a twist
The service is done, the mist
In the bathroom is her tears
There is no cutting of cord,
There is no Hollywood kiss
There is only blood and fears
Amongst the bottles of lotion,
The exfoliant, the toner
The moan of a lost mother
And then a lost daughter
Is lost over the rushing of water
And the mopping of towels
She is a women devoured
By lack of option
A woman devoured
By the strictness of God
Devoured by the constraints of
Bodily complications
Shocked by the sight of
What was.

לתינוק שלא נולד (אנונימית)
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Grand Mothers - a sample
The Uterine Connection (by Sarit Gayle Moas)
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So today is my birthday, May 28 and this, I believe, is indeed connected to my Savta. A girl’s connection is so uterus deep with her mother’s mom and I will explain why: It is known that the amount of eggs in ovaries are constant from the day we are born and gradually the amount decreases. This means, get this, that actually when my mother was a fetus in her Mother’s womb, the egg that was to become me was inside my mother’s womb, which was then encased in her mother’s womb. This means that my grandma is actually my ma! This means that part of me was carried physically in my granny’s womb along with my mother.
As today is my birthday, I feel it should be celebrated more by the parent who birthed rather than the person who was the object and not the subject of the birth. So actually, this day is also the day of my foremothers.
As we are the direct continuation of our mothers and grandmothers, we are on their shoulders, and we are higher, and thus see further – so that we may succeed in fulfilling our complete potential and theirs as they live through us and we continue to evolve and complete part of their tikkun and ours.
From Sarit Gayle Sarita bat Linda Joyce Ahuva bat Helen Hinda bat Esther Rivka Rivel bat Freyda. I wish on this birthday that I succeed in manifesting all they dreamt for, fix all they longed for as female human Jewesses.

The full section on grandmothers
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Riot Grrrl Corner (by Hadass S. Ben-Ari)
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