Terminating a Pregnancy

The author adapts biblical texts to create a ritual that expresses the anguish of terminating a pregnancy

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He looked--and there was a cake baked on the coals, and a jar of water at his head. He ate and drank and laid himself down again.

The angel came a second time and touched him and said, "Arise and eat; the journey is too much for you." And he arose and ate and drank, and journeyed. He came to a cave and lodged there, and behold the word of God came to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

… The Eternal passed by and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces, but God was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but God was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of slender silence, a voice which asked, "What are you doing here (freely taken from I Kings 9:3-13)?"

Blessed are You, God, who brings the dead to everlasting life.

Barukh ata Adonai m'chayyeh ha-meitim

May my child come to his/her resting place in peace.

Al m'komo yavo v'shalom [for a boy]

Al m'komah tavo v'shalom [for a girl]

A Prayer to Be Said After the Termination

Be gracious to me, God, for I am in distress;

my eye is consumed with grief, my soul and my body.

My life is spent with grief, my strength fails,

I am like a broken vessel.

Let me not be ashamed, God, for I have called on you.

I said in my haste, "I am cut off from before Your eyes,"

but still you heard the voice of my entreaties when I cried to You.

There are those who say that God has forsaken me.

God, do not be far from me and make haste to help me.

Restore me back to life, bring me back from the depths of the earth.

You are my hope, You have searched me and known me,

You are acquainted with all my ways.

Out of the depths I cry to You, O God, hear my voice.

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?

How long will you hide Your face from me?

As for me I will behold Your face in righteousness.

I will be satisfied when I awake, beholding Your likeness

(The following psalms were used to create this prayer: Psalms 31, 71, 139, 130, 13, 17).

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Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild is a rabbi at Wimbledon & District Synagogue in London, England.