The Sisterhood Digest:
• The number of legal abortions in Israel has declined 10% since 2000, the Jerusalem Post, citing Health Ministry statistics, reports — even as Ynet reports that abortions among ultra-Orthodox women in Israel have been on the rise since the beginning of the financial crisis. In Israel, abortions are permitted if they are shown to meet one or more of the following criteria: the woman is younger than 17 or older than 40; the pregnancy is conceived under illegal circumstances; the pregnancy is likely to endanger the health of the mother or cause her physical or emotional harm; the fetus may have a physical or mental defect.
• Meanwhile, reproductive rights groups in Israel are denouncing the Chief Rabbinate’s statement that abortions “delay redemption.” The statement was made in a recent letter that Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger sent to rabbis on the state payroll.
• Prominent Israeli rabbis increasingly consider the egg donor — not the woman who undergoes in-vitro fertilization with donor eggs — to be the baby’s halachic mother, it was revealed at last week’s Puah Institute for Fertility and Medicine According to Halacha.
• Jessica Grosse, over at DoubleX, thinks that Natalie Portman’s stated aversion to playing Jews on the big screen has to do with “the lack of good Jewish roles outside of Holocaust movies.”
• Shannon Orand, the Houston woman who found herself at the center of the Leib Tropper sex scandal, flew to Israel last week, and was converted to Judaism by the chief rabbis of Safed and Hebron–Kiryat Arba and a third rabbi, who wished to remain anonymous.
• Full-body scanners, which may be more widely used in the wake of the attempted Christmas day bombing on an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, “compromise women’s modesty … their implementation leaves us concerned,” the Rabbinical Centre of Europe has declared.
• A Jewish woman is holding an eBay auction for her short-term return to modesty.
• In an interview with Women’s eNews, Jen Taylor Friedman — the first modern woman to complete a Torah scroll start to finish — says that for female would-be scribes, it’s “nearly possible to find an apprenticeship with a competent sofer.” Taylor Friedman, who made our Forward 50 list in 2007, was just named by Women’s eNews’ as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.