Synagogues speak out

Board member and volunteer of the Australian Jewish Fertility Network Lori Levin with her eldest son.

A NUMBER of Sydney synagogues are joining more than 100 shules worldwide for this week’s Infertility Awareness Shabbat to enhance understanding and facilitate empathy for those struggling to have a family.

Timed to take place in the lead-up to Passover – a festival with a strong focus on family values – the initiative is spearheaded by Yesh Tikva, a Jewish fertility community based in Los Angeles.

For the first time, the Australian Jewish Fertility Network (AJFN) is bringing the initiative down under.
“We want to give infertility a voice,” said AJFN founder Shterny Dadon. “We want to tell couples that they have our support.”

So far, Bet Yosef, BINA, Central Synagogue, The Great Synagogue, the Jewish Learning Centre, Maroubra Synagogue, Mizrachi Synagogue, Nefesh, Ohr HaTzafon, Or Chadash and Tzemach Tzedek, will be participating in the initiative, set to take place on Saturday morning.

With one in seven couples experiencing fertility issues, Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton of The Great Synagogue said, “Fertility is a significant challenge for many in our community and it is important that it is recognised and understood.”
Many people see rabbis as the centre of a community, commented AJFN board member and volunteer, Lori Levin, “so by having that voice speak out, it shows that there is community support”.

Sharing her story with The AJN, Levin said, “When I was struggling to fall pregnant I reached out to get involved with the AJFN – it served a purpose of channelling the grief that I was feeling … to channel energy into supporting women who were facing a similar challenge to myself.”

Such support has spurred Levin to help develop an AJFN mentoring program, through which women trying to conceive will be connected with women who have gone through the fertility journey already.

“I love this notion of sisterhood,” said Levin.

“There is a lot of silence around the pain and the more we can raise the profile around the issue and draw attention to the prevalence of it, then we can help to create a dialogue. I think that’s where some of the pain will dissipate because you feel that you are not alone.”

To view a list of participating synagogues worldwide, visit