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Infertility awareness Shabbat
March 27 @ 7:00 pm - March 28 @ 8:00 pm
Over twenty Sydney synagogues are set to break the silence surrounding infertility in the Jewish community during the Infertility Awareness Shabbat, on 27/28 March 2020.
The Yesh Tikvah Infertility Awareness Shabbat is celebrated just before Pesach, a festival which celebrates Jewish continuity. With family being central to the celebration of the festival, couples experiencing infertility can often feel a sense of despair, loneliness and isolation that they aren’t able to experience the joy of Pesach with children of their own at their Seder table. We want to come to come together as a community to say to all of those struggling: ‘you are not alone’,” We want them to know that there is hope, there is support and that we share their pain.
Infertility is not openly discussed in our community, yet with one in six couples experiencing fertility issues, there are many couples in each synagogue who are experiencing the anguish of not being able to conceive naturally. It is our hope that the Infertility Awareness Shabbat will raise awareness and sensitivity about a very personal issue.
This year, more than twenty synagogues across Sydney will be participating. Even if you don’t go to shule on Shabbat, we encourage everyone to say a prayer for those who are longing for a baby of their own, have a discussion with those around you or reach out to someone who is struggling with infertility. Even if you don’t know what to say, simply telling them ‘I am here for you’ is enough.”
A message from Yesh Tikvah
When we were discussing what makes our Fifth Annual “Yesh Tikva’s Infertility Awareness Shabbat”different from all others, we knew we wanted this year to encompass a unique call to action. This year IAS is not just reserved for communal leaders to address the topic, but for Jewish women and men across the world to be active participants in ending the silence and extinguishing the shame surrounding infertility.
This year our theme is HOLDING SPACE. Holding space for those facing infertility in every context. Whether you are facing primary, secondary, male factor, circumstantial, halakhic, genetic, unexplained, etc., know that your community, the Jewish world and individuals in it are “holding space” for you.
But what exactly does holding space mean? This “catch phrase” explains a process of understanding and empathy. If you hold space for someone, you witness and validate someone else’s emotional state while simultaneously being present in your own. This means the person holding space has double duty.
We as Jews always have double duty… we are taught that:
כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה– kol yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh
we are all responsible for each other. We manage our own lives and look out for our community and the nation and land of Israel. So it is not out of our comfort zone to hold space for others facing infertility, we just need to be mindful to have our sensitivity antenna up.
So you may be asking yourself, “How can I hold space for someone if I know, or even if I don’t know exactly what they are facing?”
To start be an active listener. If someone wants to share their emotions – listen – there is no need to fill the silence, you can simply hold the silence or respond with “I am holding space for you.”
Follow their lead, and don’t push. Give people the space to share only what they are comfortable sharing and only when they are ready.
“Can I drive you somewhere? Can I pick up food for you? Want to go out for coffee?” These concrete olive branches lets the person know you are there for them and ready to help when they need.