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Rabbi Jacob Neusner has been called "the best friend Christianity has in this country" for his advocacy against public funding of anti-Christian art when he served during the 1980s on the national Council of the Arts (see "What the Rabbi Taught Me About Jesus," ct, Sept. 13, 1993, p. 27). A religion professor at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and Bard College, New York, he describes himself as "just a happy disciple of the sages of the Torah." Here the Harvard-trained author of 750 books (the Chronicle of Higher Education named him one of the most prolific authors in academia) turns his never-timid pen to an issue that hit him close to home—abortion.

My heart is broken. Just now, my wife's brother called from Jerusalem. He reported that his son's estranged wife the day before had aborted the baby they conceived two months earlier, on the very eve of the couple's final separation leading to divorce.

No law stood in the way of this act, no argument from morality. The Torah did not intervene. Lacking all legal rights—the child was not murdered, it was deemed a mere protoplasm to which my nephew had contributed—"it" had merely been "removed." The father was not consulted. Had he been, he would have confirmed that he wanted and would take paternal responsibility to raise the child. The grandparents had no say. They would gladly have welcomed the baby and, if asked, would have undertaken to nurture him or her.

Ah! phone calls from Jerusalem! That was not the first time the phone rang with news of family death in Jerusalem. More than 25 years ago, my brother-in-law called to tell us that my father-in-law had died in Jerusalem. As a tourist, he went swimming in the pool at the King David Hotel and, exhausted ...

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In the Magazine

October 26, 1998

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