Jews, Jewish Law, and Abortion after “Dobbs”

Last week, a Missouri court ruled against a group of clergymen, among them five rabbis, who sought to challenge the state law banning all abortions “except in cases of medical emergency.” The suit claimed that the law, which went into effect in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, undermines religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

Besides this lawsuit, there have been numerous cases of liberal Jewish groups filing amicus briefs in various attempts to overturn state-level abortion bans. In particular, they have raised the fact that rabbinic law since ancient times has mandated abortion in certain circumstances. Michael A. Helfand takes a close and objective look at these arguments, as well as other interventions in legal battles concerning abortion by American Jewish groups, noting how attitudes have changed following both Dobbs and evolving understandings of religious liberty.

Jewish law’s approach to abortion resists categorization as either pro-choice or pro-life. Instead, Jewish law . . . disapproves of abortion generally, but still endorses—and even requires—abortion when it promotes the health and “well-being” of the mother, broadly construed.

These unique features of Jewish law, especially the requirement of abortion when the mother’s well-being is at stake, has for some time generated significant religious-liberty advocacy on the part of Jewish organizations. A view of the history, as told through amicus-brief filings over the past 50 years, highlights how shifts in the Supreme Court’s abortion doctrine have generated changes within Jewish religious liberty advocacy. Indeed, in the pre-Dobbs era, religious exemptions found a home within some traditionalist Jewish groups, while progressive Jewish groups discounted their constitutional validity.

By contrast, in the post-Dobbs era, the roles appear to have reversed, with progressive Jewish groups advancing claims for religious exemptions, while the advocacy of some traditional Jewish groups has become more muted. And yet others, given the poor fit between Jewish law and litigation over the right to abortion, have intentionally and explicitly chosen to avoid the fray.

Read more at Social Science Research Network

More about: Abortion, American Jewry, American law, Freedom of Religion


Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation