Lynn Goldman, a lawyer specializing in adoption and assisted reproduction law, saw a void in the Jewish community for couples dealing with infertility.
“I reached out to Rabbi (Elana) Perry of Temple Sinai four or five months ago and explained to her that I had gone through infertility 13 years ago, and back then there was no support out there for Jewish people going through infertility,” Goldman said. “Rabbi Perry then did some research in the Jewish community and came back to me and said she had other inquiries.”
One of those other inquiries was from Lynne Eisenstein, another founding member of the havurah, known as WISH.
Separately, another Temple Sinai member who experienced infertility requested the inclusion of a fertility prayer during Rosh Hashanah services, causing ripples in the congregation and adding momentum to the efforts started by Goldman and Eisenstein.
“Rabbi Perry then suggested to have a meeting and see what kind of support mechanism we want to have out there,” Goldman said.
A steering committee composed of Goldman, Eisenstein and four other women came to the conclusion that a support group meeting monthly with alternating topics and speakers would be the best way to offer different perspectives on infertility and fill the void in the community.
The Jewish perspective is what will separate WISH from other infertility support groups, Goldman said.
“There are a lot of families going through this, and to be able to have that support is so necessary and also very wrapped up in Judaism,” Goldman said. “Judaism dictates to be fruitful and multiply, but it’s not always easy for people. This is a place and a way for people to gain support and meet others that are going through it as well so that they don’t feel like they’re going through it alone.”
Goldman will be part of a panel of legal, medical and religious experts who will answer questions and offer advice at the August kickoff event, “From If to When.” Jaime Gimpelson Ackerman will moderate the panel, which will include Dr. Daniel Shapiro, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility expert; Dr. Angela Arnold, a psychiatrist specializing in infertility issues; and radio personality Jenn Hobby, who had fertility struggles before having daughter Lauren in 2013.
“The inaugural event on Aug. 30 will help answer people’s questions, followed up by support groups that are going to happen on the listed dates,” said Alli Allen, who runs marketing for WISH. “You can talk, and if you don’t want to talk, you can listen to others. There’s a lot you can learn just by hearing other people’s stories.”
Though the kickoff and subsequent meetings will take place at Temple Sinai, Goldman said WISH is not limited to members of the Reform congregation. It’s open to same-sex couples, heterosexual couples, Jewish and non-Jewish people from any synagogue and any denomination.
“We’re hoping that we will grow over time, and if other synagogues want to be involved, we are happy to work with them,” Goldman said.
What: “From If to When,” Wo/Men’s Infertility Support Havurah kickoff event
Where: Temple Sinai, 5645 Dupree Drive, Sandy Springs
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30
Cost: Free; RSVP at www.wishatlanta.org