Menu JTA Search

Jewish Presence Strongly Felt at Pro-choice March in Capital

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Jewish voters, waving their affiliation on banners and placards, came from all over the country to participate in the “March for Women’s Lives” held here Sunday.

They were among the estimated crowd of 500,000 who converged on Washington in an attempt to send a strong pro-choice message on abortion to the White House on the eve of the presidential elections.

Organized by the National Organization for Women, the march — which turned out to be the largest of its kind ever — was also co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, the Reform Movement and several Jewish women’s organizations.

B’nai B’rith Women National President Joan Kort participated with a B’nai B’rith delegation of 250 people.

“We had marchers in our delegation from the age of 10, we had teen-agers and senior citizens, women and men. I was very enthusiastic about the size of our delegation, and the size of the march in general,” she said.

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER MARCH TOGETHER

Mother and daughter Gloria and Beth Kaufman came from New York City to attend the march.

“I wanted to be represented as a Jewish American here,” said the elder Kaufman.

“I wanted to share a very crucial issue with my daughter. It is important for all of us to be counted on this issue which affects us all,” she added.

Her daughter said that she wanted to come with her mother because “activism should be intergenerational; when an issue is as important as this one, it should not only be the young out here.”

She added that there was something innate in Judaism which drew her to political activism, and the abortion issue in particular.

After the march, participants filled the mall to listen to a number of prominent feminists, celebrities and politicians. Democratic Presidential hopefuls Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and former California Gov. Jerry Brown took time out from campaigning in New York to be present, but did not address the crowd.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke briefly about the importance of a woman’s right to choose, and then turned to his own agenda.

In what seemed to be an attempt to campaign for himself and Brown, Jackson tried a last-ditch effort to woo Jewish voters by condemning America’s neglect of Jewish European immigrants during the Holocaust.

Actor Ron Silver expressed his anger at the denial of women’s rights.

“What the hell is going on?” he asked. He addressed the men in the crowd and said “Guys, it should not be the way things are, but it is–we control the show. Men, look inward. Support your girlfriends, your mothers, your sisters, your wives. Allow them the choice of what to do.”

Pastor Ignacio Castuera, a member of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, an umbrella organization of clergy members dedicated to reproductive freedom for women, also spoke.

“I am here to debunk the myth that religious people are religious fanatics who terrorize women. Most people of faith are pro-choice,” he said.

NEXT STORY