By Dana Fleitman, Program Coordinator
Esther Cantor, 24, is a J.D. candidate at the University of Virginia focusing on the immigrant community, particularly victims of human rights violations and violent crime, and is looking for a career in public service. She may not be on the front lines of the pro-choice movement, but her commitment to pro-choice and women’s issues guides her professionally and personally.
“This is an important issue when it comes to social justice in general — you can try to fix education or welfare, but until women can control how and when they have children, they can’t take responsibility over themselves and their lives,” notes Esther. “It’s impossible to pull yourself out of a hole when you have choice taken away from you.”
Esther feels a real sense of urgency around the attacks on abortion access, and says that her generation is alarmed and concerned. “Many of us feel very deeply about this but, if we don’t work at an abortion-focused organization, may not know how to be involved. I follow choice in the news, send things on to senators and try to keep aware. I’m not a single issue voter, but for me and most of the people I know who are young, this is an issue they pay attention to while voting.”
Esther was raised in a Jewish household Michigan. “One thing we always talked about was Tikkum Olam – that’s something that’s been very formative in my decision to be in a service career. I’m not sure I would have gone into service if it weren’t for that upbringing.”
She goes on to explain, “in a lot of ways, religion can get a bad rap these days because it can be seen as more repressive than open and more about what we aren’t supposed to do than what we are supposed to do. But at their hearts, most religions are about being good people and making the world a better place. That’s a central tenant of the Judaism I was raised in, and it makes me happy that the Jewish community and Jewish women are upholding that tradition.”
Since our early days as B’nai B’rith Women, Jewish Women International (JWI) has fought to give women control over their bodies and over their lives – but forty years after Roe, our reproductive rights are far from guaranteed. Sign the pledge and commit to protecting choice!