Hod of Chesed
We’re all (by now) familiar with the story of the Orange on the seder plate. Not only the famous midrash (note I am not calling it fact) of Susannah Heschel and the man who claimed women should not be Jewish leaders, but also the misty origins of said story in the a woman telling lesbians that female homosexuality is a minor sin, like putting bread on the seder plate. Nevermind why the relentless deconstruction of this midrash is an example of why modern midrash sucks (I’ll talk about that some other time).
Instead, take a look at a post by Mel of Stirrup Queens and Sperm Count Jesters. Normally her blog is about infertility and its side issues from the perspective of an observant Jew. In this post, she writes about Thomas Beatie, the pregnant man and how putting an apple on the seder plate, for her, revived the original facts of the orange midrash…
representing reproductive rights for all people because truthfully, just as the changed story of Heschel’s speech has a man shouting about women belonging on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate, empty symbolic gestures do not have a space at my table. It is apples and oranges; I am taking back the fruit. If I believe in reproductive rights for myself–and believe me, I want my reproductive rights well-covered–I need to believe in reproductive rights for all who act out of love or my shouting for myself becomes merely symbolic, self-serving, meaningless.
Mother Jones, in August 2006, ran a survey of fertility clinic directors. Only 59% believed everyone has a right to a child. 48% said they would likely turn away a gay couple seeking a surrogate. 20% would turn away a single woman. 17% would turn away a lesbian couple. If you want reproductive rights for yourself–and I’m fairly certain that no fertility clinic director would wish to be told that they cannot or must have a child–we should be concerned about others. Because I’m not just talking about those experiencing infertility who need to utilize assisted conception when I speak about reproductive rights–every single person on this earth should be in control of whether or not they reproduce or parent. Put an apple on the seder plate for that.