Mahjong as Child’s Play

Mahjong as Child’s Play

The tiles were clacking, the wine was flowing, and the good spirits were soaring as Atlanta’s Jewish Fertility Foundation held its first fundraiser, Games & Dames, Thursday night, April 7.

“We’re so excited to have you here tonight,” Elana Frank, the foundation’s founder and president, said in welcoming a crowd of 78 women to Congregation B’nai Torah for three hours of playing mahjong, noshing, bidding in a silent auction and vying for raffle prizes.

The women came together not only to have fun, but to address the problem of infertility, which affects one in six Jewish couples, compared with one in eight couples in the general population.

The idea to play games to raise money for the newborn foundation came from Frank’s mother, Jeanine Bekerman, and grandmother, Rose Sowadsky. “My mother and grandmother know how passionate I am about helping others who are going through infertility,” Frank said before the event. “They have seen me in my most desperate moments of wanting children, and they decided to help the cause by doing what they know and love — playing games.”

Women had the option to sign up for a variety of games, but, regardless of age, they all wanted to play mahjong.

The event brought in more than $3,000 for the foundation’s initial fundraising stage. More programs are being planned.

Frank said the first grants will go out in January 2017 if the foundation meets its financial goals. The foundation also is partnering with the Jewish Interest Free Loan Association

A medical committee of six top fertility specialists has helped create the criteria to select the recipients of grants to help pay for in vitro fertilization. A round of IVF in Atlanta can cost up to $25,000, and Georgia does not mandate health insurance coverage for infertility.

Photos by Michael Jacobs

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