After Nashville JCC cancels, Reform temple offers venue for Planned Parenthood event


(JTA) — A Nashville synagogue has offered its facility as a venue for a Planned Parenthood event in the wake of a city JCC backing out of an agreement to host.

Congregation Ohabai Sholom, also known as The Temple, reached out to Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee after learning of the Gordon Jewish Community Center’s cancellation of the Oct. 1 event, the Tennessean newspaper reported Monday. The JCC is believed to have pulled out due to pressure from members.

Ohabai Sholom Rabbi Shana Mackler told JTA in a telephone interview that her 750-family congregation is “proud to open our doors for Planned Parenthood to hold their fundraiser here.” Founded in 1851, Ohabai Sholom, which is Reform, is Nashville’s oldest synagogue, and it has the city’s largest congregation.

“The temple has long history of supporting Planned Parenthood through our social action allocations, as well as having them come into our religious school to speak with families about safe and sacred choices,” Mackler said. “We wanted to open our doors to make sure they had a place they could go.”

Asked if the synagogue was offering its space for free or charging rent, as the JCC had been planning to do, the rabbi declined to provide details but noted that many of the synagogue members are Planned Parenthood supporters and will be attending the event.

Nashville’s Jewish population is estimated at 8,000 to 10,000, Mackler said. She said several individual members of the Jewish community had also offered space to Planned Parenthood.

The JCC was not the first venue to back out on leasing space for Planned Parenthood’s fundraiser, Mackler said, noting that the event had originally been scheduled to take place at a local food bank.

Jeff Teague, the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee, told The Tennessean, “The Temple was very generous in offering us the space there. We already had another space secured, but they showed us such generosity in offering us to use space there that we finalized all the details on Friday and over the weekend.

“We’ve always really appreciated and enjoyed really strong support from the Jewish community here in Nashville,” he added. “I think this is a demonstration of that. There were a lot of people who were upset by what the JCC did. And so we’ve just had a really strong outpouring of support from not just the Jewish community, but the entire community in general after that article ran on Friday.”

Teague was referring to an article in The Tennessean about the JCC’s decision to revoke the agreement with the family-planning group and abortion provider in response to “apparent pressures from some of the center’s members.”

JCC officials said that several Catholic members had started to pressure the center to cancel the rental contract, Planned Parenthood officials told The Tennessean.

Planned Parenthood has been under attack from Republicans and anti-abortion activists for allegedly profiting from the sale of fetal tissue for medical research, a claim the nonprofit denies.

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