Jews from around metro Atlanta gathered at Congregation Or VeShalom on Sunday, April 23, to get training for the new Fertility Buddies program sponsored by the Jewish Fertility Foundation.

The program matches veterans of struggles with infertility and other Jews currently having trouble achieving a successful pregnancy.

The training at Or VeShalom was aimed at veterans who will mentor and provide guidance to infertility newcomers. The session focused on practicing relationship-based support within the program.

Support for a fertility buddy includes monthly supervision check-ins, phone calls, and time to discuss feelings and issues that can arise during a frustrating period.

Lauren Magalnick Berman shared the psychological implications of infertility as she addressed the group.

“Grief is the most common emotion felt,” she said. “A diagnosis of infertility elicits similar intensity of emotional distress as a diagnosis of HIV or cancer. Having someone who gets it is important.”

The Jewish Fertility Foundation will provide financial assistance and educational awareness along with continued emotional support to Atlanta Jewish families through the Fertility Buddies group, filling a need for people facing medical fertility challenges.

The nonprofit organization will take specific care in matching the buddies, taking into account such factors as geography, the veteran’s experience, skills and style, and other needs and preferences to ensure a successful match.

Elana Bekerman Frank, the president and founder of the Jewish Fertility Foundation and an infertility veteran, understood that people struggling with fertility issues needed more than a traditional support group, inspiring the Fertility Buddies curriculum and model.

“Relationship-based peer support programs are not new to the Jewish community,” Frank said. “To look around the table and see that the eight women and one man will be offering another avenue of support to the over 80 women and men (JFF works with) currently experiencing infertility is really powerful. Infertility does not discriminate based on Jewish denomination, and we had great representation based on the demographics of Atlanta’s Jewish population.”

The training coincided with National Infertility Week. In raising awareness for Fertility Buddies, Frank urged those experiencing fertility struggles to reach out for emotional support. Contact Frank at 770-843-7413 or elana@jewishfertilityfoundation.org.