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Unitarian and Buddhist Ministers are joining a rabbi’s legal effort

Unitarian ministers and a Jewish clergy group are joining a Florida rabbi’s legal battle against his state’s abortion law.



A South Florida rabbi is waging a court battle against a new state legislation outlawing abortions after 15 weeks. Two religious leaders, a Unitarian and a Buddhist, want to join him, claiming the measure infringes on their right to privacy and their freedom of religion.

Rabbi Barry Silver’s views will be echoed by the retired Unitarian Rev. Harris Riordan and the Buddhist minister Maya Malay, who both stated they will file a case in state court the following week. Around the same time, the rabbi plans to submit his own modified complaint.

Silver added, “We are thrilled to broaden our action to include distinguished members of the Buddhist and Unitarian religions. “Maya Malay and Harris Riordan have committed their lives to bettering the world for people of all faiths and religions. They are outstanding instructors of their own traditions.” To remove the wall separating church and state and to bring people from all over the world together to defend human rights and safeguard our fragile planet, Silver said, “We look forward to forging alliances with people of all faiths and backgrounds, including atheists and freethinkers.

Before the Florida statute went into effect on July 1, Silver’s synagogue, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Palm Beach County, originally brought a lawsuit against it. The rabbi told NBC News on Wednesday that he will include his name as an individual plaintiff in a revised case.


David Ferleger, a Philadelphia lawyer who has presented five cases before the US Supreme Court, has been hired by Silver as his legal advisor. Malay and Riordan will also be represented by Ferleger.

“The freedom of religion is a constitutional right for every Floridian. Florida legislation must uphold this privilege, according to Ferleger. “The law must be repealed because it compels Jews to renounce their Jewish convictions,”

In general, American Jews believe that life begins at birth, not conception, and that abortion is a fundamental human right. According to Silver’s initial case, “abortion is required if necessary to protect the woman’s health, mental or physical well-being.”

The rabbi, a self-described “Rabbi Rouser” and a former Democratic representative for the Florida House, told NBC News that he thought the nation’s anti-abortion laws amounted to “theocratic dictatorship.”


The government is currently attempting to provide an answer to the fundamental religious question of when life begins for everyone using fundamentalist Christianity, according to Silver.

People lecturing Jews on the sanctity of life and telling them what the Bible says are acting with the utmost chutzpah, he continued.

The Florida governor’s office issued a statement that read, “Our opinion on this case is the same as our comment on any other legal challenge to the pro-life HB 5 legislation.”

DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw further stated, “Governor DeSantis is pro-life, and we believe HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges.” She was alluding to the legislation that the governor had signed into law. “The fight for life has just begun.”


In response to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, proponents of abortion rights are frantically working to fight anti-abortion measures.

The rabbi predicted that additional religious institutions, including possible Mississippi plaintiffs, will follow his example in the days and weeks to come.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which filed the lawsuit that the Supreme Court used to overturn Roe v. Wade, was the last abortion facility operating in that conservative Deep South state. It shuttered about a week ago.

Silver has launched an initiative to assist other Christian organizations — even atheists — push back against anti-abortion legislation across the U.S. in an effort to enlist more organizations behind his cause.


With its mission to “restore abortion rights in a post-Roe v. Wade world” and “enable any individual of any belief system to challenge the anti-abortion laws on religious grounds,” Silver’s effort Helping Emancipate Abortion Rights Today (HEART) aims to do both.

He is not the only Jewish community leader appalled by Roe’s demise and the harsh new reality for proponents of reproductive freedom and abortion rights.

Organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel International, and the Women’s Rabbinic Network all made remarks when the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe, was announced.

“God grew extremely angry; and Moses despaired,” Numbers 11:10 best captures how we feel right now, according to the Women’s Rabbinic Network. “We stand with generations of Jewish scholars who proclaim plainly and categorically that abortion access is a Jewish ideal.