Image: The logo of Hasidah, a Jewish organization for support of individuals and couples suffering with infertility. It is a stork carrying a bundle, and the word “Hasidah.”
There’s a trope that repeats again and again in the Jewish Bible: a woman suffers from infertility. Such a women is identified in Hebrew as an akarah, a “childless woman.”
Five women are identified as akarot (plural): Sarah (Genesis 11:30,) Rivka (Genesis 25:21,) Rachel (Genesis 29:31,) Samson’s nameless mother (Judges 13:2,) and Hannah ((1 Samuel 2:5) The prophet Isaiah even characterizes Zion as a metaphorical akarah (Isaiah 54:1).
The stories follow a pattern: a woman grieves because she has difficulty conceiving, someone offers prayer, and God grants the woman a child. The moral of the story seems simple: God, who is central to fertility, listens to prayer.
For many modern couples, the simplicity of the stories and their solution may feel glib or even like a mockery. About 10 percent of women in the United States ages 15-44 (6.1 million) have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While the technology of infertility treatment has made great progress, it is available only at great personal and financial cost. In addition to the physical and financial challenge of infertility, it often raises spiritual and emotional challenges as well.
Hasidah (www.hasidah.org) is a Jewish organization which supports and assists Jewish couples who experience infertility. It does so by connecting people undergoing the grueling process of infertility treatment with resources for spiritual, emotional and financial support. Hasidah also trains Jewish professionals in the pastoral support of infertile couples.
If you or someone you know is suffering from infertility, contact Hasidah. Also, if you wish to support infertility awareness programs, rabbinic training seminars, counseling and spiritual care, as well as financial assistance for fertility treatment, you can donate to Hasidah – it is an excellent choice for your tzedakah funds.
(Full disclosure: I am a Rabbinic Partner of Hasidah.)