It’s a tough time of year for couples without children. Often, these holidays (Purim and Pesach) can be difficult to celebrate without children to dress up, eat candy, sit at the Seder. Shul specifically can serve as a painful reminder of what struggling couples are so desperately praying for. Recently, for Parshas Zachor, the shul was packed. Men, women, couples, singles, children. The place was booming. At times like this, I remember what it was like to be surrounded by so many people that were blessed to have children while I was still waiting for my miracle. People younger than me, married for less time, and so forth. It’s hard not to look around and compare and wonder “why me?”. Especially at shul where thank G-d, there are so many children.
There was just an article written by Ruth Balinsky Friedman (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/03/30/when-youre-facing-infertility-a-synagogue-can-be-the-most-painful-place-to-go-lets-change-that/) on the painfulness of attending synagogue while struggling with infertility. She writes “But for every baby that is born, there is at least one person in the room desperately wishing it was happening to them. While my husband I were struggling through our two miscarriages, uncertain of what the future held, being in a synagogue was very painful. There were so many times that I stood with families welcoming new babies, happy for the new parents, but also with tears in my eyes as we sang because it hurt so much and I so badly wished that I was the one celebrating. And if one in six couples deals with infertility, then I know I was not the only one.”
She then continues, “So how can faith communities be more supportive? How can we be a more sensitive space that helps make those couples feel less alone? We cannot control biology. And we cannot stop celebrating births. But we can strive to be a community that is able to hold both of these needs together. When we know that someone is suffering from something that we cannot fix, many of us react by disengaging, because we don’t know what to say. It’s much easier to be a community that celebrates births, without considering the babies who are not born. It’s easier to enjoy happy moments without recognizing that those times may be sad for others. But if we value all members of our community, independent of their status as single or married, parents or not, then it is incumbent on us to reflect that in our actions. To not make assumptions about why someone may or may not have children…. To invite people in all different life stages, not just families, to our homes for Shabbat meals. To remember that at our times of celebration, there are some in the room who are in great pain, and to take extra care to engage.”
I challenge you. We can sit back and complain and share our frustrations. Or we can stand up and take a step toward change. A step toward raising awareness, breaking the stigma, and supporting those struggling. We can BE the change. Please help to ensure that your synagogue is participating in the “100 shuls Project” and help spread awareness. Please click here to see if your synagogue is listed and if not, please share the information with your Rabbi and encourage your congregation to participate to give infertility a voice. Be the change you want.
PS- Starting a new job and may not have time to write as often. Looking for guest posters!
Don’t forget to subscribe to receive emails when a new blog is posted!