The Rachel Sabbath Initiative is named for the matriarch Rachel in the Hebrew Scriptures, who died in childbirth (Gen. 35: 16-20).
Rachel first appears in Genesis 29, when she encounters Jacob, her future husband. Her story progresses with heartache over preempted love and infertility. Eventually, Rachel gives birth to a son and the desire for even more children. Like millions of women today, “. . . she suffered severe labor.” In Genesis 35, with a midwife by her side, Rachel dies after delivering her second child. Jacob’s caravan stops to bury her on the road to Ephrath. (In many cultures, the bodies of women who died in childbirth were considered a threat to those still living.)
Rachel’s story speaks to the persistent need for maternal health care, particularly in the developing world, to save the lives of more than half a million women who die every year in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications.
Later in the Hebrew Scriptures, we hear from Rachel again: “Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15). Rachel speaks today to the needs of the one million children left motherless every year due to maternal mortality. These children are three to 10 times more likely to die themselves within two years of their mother’s death.
The Rachel Sabbath Initiative is a call to faith communities to honor Rachel and her children by committing to saving women’s and children’s lives around the world.
Rachel Sabbath Initiative Media Coverage