The Jewish Fertility Foundation is dedicated to providing financial and emotional support to Jewish couples experiencing infertility. We also provide educational opportunities to the Atlanta community. To that end, we would like to share the emotions infertile couples may experience around the High Holidays.
This time of the Jewish calendar can be especially fraught for those suffering with infertility. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of introspection, reviewing the events and actions of the previous year, and of hope, looking forward to the year to come.
For those of us dealing with medical infertility, it is a time to accept that one more year has passed without our prayers being answered and to fervently pray that the new year brings a child. The Torah and Haftorah portions on Rosh Hashanah are especially difficult for infertile couples, as we read about the pain and suffering of “barren” Rachel and Chana.
This discomfort may be amplified by sermons exhorting congregants to “be fruitful and multiply,” by announcements of the births in the community over the previous year and by other seemingly noncontroversial statements. With one in six Atlanta Jewish couples experiencing infertility, it is highly likely that several infertile couples are sitting in every sanctuary, looking for comfort and hope.
The Jewish Fertility Foundation exists to provide emotional and financial support to these couples, as well as educational outreach to the Atlanta rabbinate, larger Jewish community and medical treatment providers.
“Be fruitful and multiply” — Jewish continuity is dependent on us reproducing, and, for many Jewish couples, medical intervention is required.
For those couples experiencing the challenges of infertility, we encourage you to attend our support group sessions and apply for grants to assist with treatment costs. For those who would like to learn more about the subject, we encourage you to attend one of our educational programs or panel discussions. And for those who would like to contribute to provide finance assistance for treatment, it is considered as though you too participated in the mitzvah.
Let us all pray that the coming year brings an end to all suffering and that the prayers of the infertile couples sitting among us at High Holiday services are answered.
L’shana tova u’metuka.
Debbie Derby is the education chair of the Jewish Fertility Foundation (www.jewishfertilityfoundation.org), Elie Engler is the JFF board chair, and Elana Frank is the executive director and founder.