Meet Jewish Person of the Week – Leah Greenblum
Let’s Meet Jewish Person Of The Week – Leah Greenblum
I became a staunch atheist right before my Bat Mitzvah, but I still went through with it (unlike the Transparent subplot). What’s so Jewish about abortion access? In our tradition we say that abortions are permissible because the “health of the mother” comes first. I would choose to word that differently – simply saying that the health of the pregnant person comes first…
Where did you grow up?
I was raised in central Florida- near the Space Center and precious few fellow Jews. I have called Chicago home now for 8 years!
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Florida for undergrad and Brown for my Masters.
What do you do for work?
I spend my days (and many nights as well) working for the nonprofit I founded, Midwest Access Coalition (MAC).
What did you do Jewish growing up?
I grew up attending Sunday/Hebrew school and then was a teacher’s aid at religious school. I became a staunch atheist right before my Bat Mitzvah, but I still went through with it (unlike the Transparent subplot). I couldn’t not perform after I’d been perfecting my Haftorah portion for way too long. It gave me something to obsess over. But if you ask me anything substantive about the experience I have no good answer. I think this is pretty standard for most American Jews around my age. We had hollow experiences – so many resources wasted. I’m happy thinking that things are finally beginning to turn around. Young Jews may actually be learning helpful things these days- whether or not they reject the notion of God.
How is Tikkun Olam central to your life today?
Tikkun Olam is central to my life because while I like to party and have a good time, I have a firm sense of obligation. I can not say it better than Perkei Avot: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Unbelievably beautiful and true.
What is empirically Jewish for you about Women’s access to healthcare?
What’s so Jewish about abortion access? Well, in our tradition we say that abortions are permissible because the “health of the mother” comes first. I’d word that differently – simply saying that the health of the pregnant person comes first. [let’s not assume the person a) identifies as a woman, and/or b) already has children].
When we think about health, it must include mental health. If a person chooses to have an abortion, we must assume that that person is not making a flippant decision – that this indeed the best decision for their biological, psychological, and spiritual self. That is treating the person in question with dignity. Judaism knows that women’s life comes before a fetus, and that is key. What’s more, we’ve got a long history of Jewish women standing up for the right to choose. See this Haaretz piece for more. Or check us out more here or here.
Tell us more about your new non for profit, how can we help and get involved?
I started the org because I saw a need that wasn’t being filled – thousands of people needing to travel serious distances in order to access abortion care. When someone has to overcome barrier after barrier, we know that it’s possible they will not be able to obtain the choice that’s best for them. That’s unacceptable. MAC’s a client-based approach assists with the logistics and costs of travel for abortion care. We have over 100 volunteers and are always looking for more! To volunteer, sign up here. Please consider making a donation!
What do you do for fun/to relax?
MAC is a grassroots, 501(c)3 non-profit organization (EIN 47-2160168). Donations allow Leah and the team to cover costs for those traveling for abortion care. All donations are tax-deductible.