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Turning “Learning” into “Doing” at Temple Sinai

By Leslie N. of Temple Sinai

On Sunday, May 5, members of Temple Sinai and our partners came together for our third Abortion Care Kit Assembly Session. Dr. Kate G. opened our event, providing framing remarks explaining the importance of this work and underscoring the message it sends from our faith community. We made a total of 216 care kits for people seeking abortions here in New York -- 180 kits for Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, our critical partner and guide in this work, and 36 for a University of Rochester-affiliated abortion provider that supports later-stage abortions. We have focused on assembling kits in multiples of the number 18, which has symbolic meaning in Judaism.

Our reproductive rights work initially ramped up with the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June of 2022. Temple members began meeting and exploring how we could address the new abortion landscape. For our first program, we planned a half-day symposium to teach and inspire, “Navigating Our Post-Roe World: Developing a Jewish Response.” A number of Jewish organizations and congregations in Rochester co-sponsored the event, and our agenda included keynote presentations by Rabbi Debbi T. and a sexual and reproductive health care provider from our congregation; a panel (including Dr. Eva P., attorney Jill P., and Madeline D. of Planned Parenthood) moderated by Dr. Deb R. that discussed medical, legal, and policy perspectives; and breakout sessions around key topics.

Following our symposium, Temple Sinai’s Reproductive Rights Committee continued to explore how we could support people seeking abortions in our area, both those from Rochester and those coming from states where abortion rights are increasingly under attack. We decided to plan our first Abortion Care Kit Assembly Session, to turn our symposium learning into action. We held our first session in May 2023, making 180 bags. After learning from Madeline at Planned Parenthood how much people seeking abortions have appreciated the kits, and how staff love distributing them, we committed to making the care kit sessions a regular bi-annual event – hosting one care kit assembly session each fall, and one each spring.

Temple members Laura C. and Joyce S. have taken the lead in facilitating our sessions, which includes managing donations and registrations, purchasing supplies, coordinating room set-up, publicizing the event, setting up the assembly lines, and delivering the completed kits. Using hand-sewn bags prepared by Jane B. and many other volunteers, and including handwritten note cards written by our Hadassah partners, a committed group of volunteers has made our Abortion Care Kit Sessions a regular feature of our Temple Sinai calendar.


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