Breastfeeding at: Temple Beth Israel, Waltham, MA

Temple Beth Israel in Waltham, Massachussetts

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is both permitted and welcome.

It “Hasn’t been addressed in writing, but I’ve nursed there without issue, trying to cover up without nursing. No one ever commented.   I usually cover up or sit not facing people, but haven’t felt inconvenienced.”

Private Nursing Locations:

“Unofficially, there is a children’s room and downstairs play areas.” The Children’s Room is the space that used to be the Bridal Room.  It is “Near [the] sanctuary, next to the kitchen. And downstairs there are more rooms.”  There are chairs and cushions there.  

Other Information:

There are plenty of options for spaces to nurse, if you don’t want to nurse in the sanctuary or the children’s room.  They are not designated for the purpose, but are often available.

 

Genera Child Friendliness:

There is a changing table in the Children’s Room.  There is space for strollers to be parked, and there is space for children’s supplies in the coat room.  If you needed to store pumped milk, you could probably put it in the main fridge, preferably with a label with your name.

“The congregation loves seeing and hearing children.”  They are welcome in the main service.  The website adds that “Temple Beth Israel provides babysitting every Shabbat from 10-12.  We have a large, carpeted playroom downstairs with a variety of books, toys and games and sufficient space for both quiet and active play.  Children are also joyfully welcome in the main service and often move between the playroom and services.”  There is a monthly children’s service, aimed at children ages 2-7.

Bottle-feeding is fine in this community.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received a  rating of

    • Great, could barely be better- 1

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating, and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Rabbi David Finkelstein at rabbidavid@tbiwaltham.org

Synagogue Website:  http://tbiwaltham.org

Breastfeeding at Fort Tryon Jewish Center (FTJC), Manhattan, NY

Fort Tryon Jewish Center in Manhattan, New York, USA

Originally posted 6/6/2015, Updated 7/20/16

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted and welcome in the service, with and without a cover, both officially and socially.

Previously, it was understood that breastfeeding was best done at the back, but this is no longer the case.  Some people are comfortable nursing in the midst of the regular seating, some others choose not to.

Private Nursing Locations:

There are two chairs for nursing in the entry room to the upstairs bathroom (a separate room), which also has a changing station.

Other Information:

The Fort Tryon Jewish Center currently meets at the Hebrew Tabernacle for most services.  When they meet elsewhere (for example, private homes/apartments), obviously, some of this information won’t be entirely accurate.

The policy was developed through consultation between the rabbi and congregants when several waves of new babies were born in a short period of time.   The policy was then announced in a drasha by the rabbi, a few years ago.  (Policy made public and clear- I love clear communication!)  However it is not shared on the website or in other materials.

Nursing is welcomed by this community, and one may  stay in the main seats while nursing.

Genera Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in both the women’s and gender neutral bathrooms.  Strollers are parked outside or in the stairwell, and there is space for children’s needed supplies.

The main service is “very welcoming; toy corner and block corner in back. However, kids are expected to play quietly.”  One parent thinks the set-up prevents kids from sitting quietly up front with their toys, instead of in back.

Bottlefeeding is welcomed and comfortable in this community, both during services and other programming.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

    • Alright, it works pretty well- 3
    • Alright, it works pretty well- 3

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating, and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Guy Austrian at rabbi@ftjc.org

Synagogue Website:  http://www.ftjc.org

 

Breastfeeding at: Adas Israel, Washington, DC

Adas Israel, in Washington, DC, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  “I’ve done it and women do it every week. Not sure about a written policy but the Rabbis have spoken extensively about it”.  It is generally comfortable and accepted.

Private Nursing Locations:

The private nursing space is the bridal room, which is labeled as the “Bride’s room”.  It is located on the “Main floor, near the Beit Midrash and one of the sanctuaries”.  It’s usually unlocked during services, but sometimes you need to ask a staff member to unlock it.  Inside the room there’s also a bathroom with it’s own door and lock. The room is stocked with a boppy and changing pad as well.

There are some accessibility limitations- contact the synagogue if you know you have particular needs, since I don’t have particulars as to whether the only issue is that it is sometimes locked, or if there are other limitations.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is generally “Very pro breastfeeding, wherever and whenever. I’ve seen clergy spouses nursing in the sanctuary without a cover. I’ve done it myself.”

The connection to get this review came from a piece in Kveller  (Read it by clicking here ) where the author says of Adas Israel: ”

our congregation—Adas Israel, in Washington, DC—is about the most kid-friendly place I have ever been.

Walk into our main sanctuary on any given Saturday and amidst the chanting and praying and shuffling of pages, you’ll hear a symphony of children’s voices. Laughing, singing, crying, asking questions—doing all the things kids do. Look around and you’ll see kids on the bimah, kids in the pews with their families, kids walking the aisles, mamas nursing babies, papas clutching kids under a tallis as they rock rhythmically back and forth. In one service, you’ll even find a play area for kids off to the side of the room.”

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the Women’s bathrooms, Men’s bathrooms, Family/children’s bathroom, and the Nursing Room.  People leave strollers in the coat room.  There is space for kids’ stuff, including a fridge for pumped milk.

“Children [are] encouraged in all services and welcomed onto the bimah throughout”.

There is a Tot Shabbat service at 11am for children 5 and under.

Bottlefeeding is also accepted here; the community is “generally positive on feeding babies however they need to be fed”.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received a rating of

  • Great, could barely be better- 1

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Main contact: adasoffice@adasisrael.org

Senior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf at Rabbi.Steinlauf@adasisrael.org

Cantor Arianne Brown at Cantor.Brown@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Aaron Alexander at Rabbi.Alexander@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt at Rabbi.Holtzblatt@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Kerrith Rosenbaum at Rabbi.Rosenbaum@adasisrael.org

Synagogue Website: http://adasisrael.org/

Breastfeeding at: Emanuel Synagogue, Oklahoma City, OK

Emmanuel Synagogue, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  “The Rabbi breastfeeds her own baby in the sanctuary and in the chapel.”  It is mostly comfortable.

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no designated nursing room/space, but “There is a children’s room adjacent to the chapel, and there is one ladies’ room with comfy furniture.”   That bathroom is on the “main floor, between the chapel and the sanctuary”.  There are some accessibility limitations.  I’d suggest contacting the rabbi to find out more, if this is a concern for you.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

“People usually offer [information about breastfeeding locations] when they see a family with babies–we’re not that big.”

“Our older members seem to be shifting from discomfort to joy that there are more babies around here. The nursing cover does not seem to impact attitudes–although I think people notice that breastfeeding is occuring far less if no cover is used (or, rather, if the only cover is the mother’s shirt).”

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom only.  There is no designated space for strollers.  There is space for kids’ supplies, including a fridge for pumped breastmilk.

The attitude toward children in the main service is “Positive, if the noise is kept to a dull roar”.

Bottle feeding may or may not be accepted and comfortable in this community.  If you have experience bottle-feeding here, please let me know what it’s like!

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received a rating of

  • Great, could barely be better- 1

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

General contact at emanuel_office@coxinet.net

Rabbi  Abby Jacobson via form on the website at http://www.emanuelokc.org/#!rabbi/c1h35

Synagogue Website:  www.emanuelokc.org

Some So-Far Summaries

I’m in a lull, in terms of new responses.  It may well be a pre-Pesach lull.  So in the meantime, here are some statistics from the information we’ve gathered together, so far.

And if these statistics motivate you to share this with friends or family, that would be even better, right?

So here we go:

90% of synagogues have no way of communicating where they permit or encourage breastfeeding, short of contacting a staff or clergy person.

57% permit breastfeeding in the sanctuary.

49% have a location set up for breastfeeding.

46% of  those locations are totally unlabeled.

13% have no changing table at all.

7% have a fridge where parents can store a bottle of pumped milk.

5 rabbis open their offices to nursing parents wanting quiet/privacy to feed their babies.

2 communities are unfriendly to bottle-feeding.

 

Breastfeeding At: Special Summary About Unnamed Israeli Synagogues

I’ve received a few questionnaires that describe synagogues in Israel that don’t seem to have any name.  So far, I’ve gotten 3 such responses (out of a bit over 100 total responses)- so it can’t be so unusual there.

Going forward, I’ve modified the questionnaire to ask for alternative identifiers.

But so that you can see as much as I do, here are a few quick things that I’ve noticed.

-Two permit, very comfortably: “Simply, it’s what is done. In this particular shul, the mechitza is constructed in such a way that men and women can’t see each other, so it feels less complex.” and “As far as I know there’s no written policy, there have just always been nursing mothers in Shul, both with and without covers”, while at the last, it isn’t and the mother who filled out the questionnaire writes that she “got yelled at for trying with a cover”.

-I don’t have enough evidence to think about whether they are representative of local communities- one of these is even anonymous enough to be in an unnamed Yishuv, while the others are in Jerusalem (and like the other few I’ve gotten information about, has been very open to breastfeeding), and in Haifa (not open to it at all).  But I have no other questionnaires about Haifa synagogues, so I really can’t say anything.

-I do notice that Israeli synagogues seem not to have diaper changing tables anywhere.  I have not yet received a questionnaire where an Israeli synagogue is reported to have a changing table.

That’s what I saw as useful or interesting to share from these synagogues.  I look forward to broadening this blog’s reporting about Israeli synagogues- especially if we can get the identification thing down.

Breastfeeding at: Young Israel, Oak Park, MI

Young Israel, in Oak Park, Michigan, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is probably not permitted.  “I don’t think that would fly”

Private Nursing Locations:

“There is a couch in bathroom and also a private room with a rocking chair in the children’s room.”  There is no name or label given.  There are some accessibility limitations, but no specifics were given.  If you are a parent with a disability looking to attend this shul, I suggest contacting the synagogue in advance to determine how to meet your needs there.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.  It does offer the following statement: “We have a private room for mothers to provide for their infants and toddlers. For preschoolers, we have a professionally staffed playroom that is larger than in any other Orthodox shul around.”

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom and the men’s bathrooms.  There is space for strollers, but none for kids’ stuff.

I have no information about attitudes toward children in the main service yet.  

I have no information about bottle-feeding in this community yet.  If yo do, please tell me!

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received a rating of

  • Okay, it is just workable enough- 4

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Michael Cohen at Rabbi@yiop.org

Synagogue Website: http://www.yiop.org/

Nursing Space Photos: Agudath Israel Congregation

Agudath Israel Congregation has just created a new family lounge, including a private nursing space with a curtain to provide privacy.

The synagogue is working on signs that will indicate both the location of the family lounge and that breastfeeding is welcome in all parts of the synagogue.  I’ll keep you posted with more as their work continues.

nursing room photo Agudath Canada 2016 1

 

[Photo shows a view into the nursing space, with a two-seater sofa with pillow, and cubbies/shelving behind it.  The substantial, white curtain is pulled back to one side.]

 

 

The lounge also has additional couches, and play structures.

nursing room photo Agudath Canada 2016 3 [Photo shows two white couches on each side of a corner.  There is a small piece of art up on the wall.  The wall is a light purple.  The rug has a large cire on it of which the photo shows part.  The circle has the Hebrew alphabet on it.]

 

 

nursing room photo Agudath Canada 2016 2 [Photo shows a purple carpet, windows on the right side, a plastic play structure with a red slide, and behind it, what looks like a play-kitchen.]

Breastfeeding at: Stanford Minyan, Palo Alto, CA

Stanford Minyan, in Palo Alto, California, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  “There is no written policy regarding nursing (or essentially anything) but I’ve done it and no one batted an eye.”  However, she notes that “I was deep in the women’s section and was wearing a cover so no skin showed. I would have felt less comfortable if I were more exposed but only because it’s a small minyan and it would make me stand out.”

Private Nursing Locations:

There is a “room across hall from sanctuary”, that is a study lounge, and is usually private.  “Quirks include that anyone can technically walk in (but this rarely happens in practice and if so, you can sit/nurse so you see them before they see you).”  It is labeled “Lounge”, and contains “2 big comfortable couches and pillows.”  It is accessible on Shabbat.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is generally “Pro-breastfeeding. I know due to private discussions I’ve had about it with community members. That said, there are so few mothers of young children/babies that folks are more pro-breastfeeding in theory than in practice. Most members of the community are students (younger) and baby boomers (older).”

General Child Friendliness:

There are no changing tables available.  “We sometimes pull a table into the women’s or men’s bathroom downstairs to change diapers. Or just change them on the floor/couches.”  People leave strollers “downstairs near kiddush.”  Kids’ stuff s left wherever is convenient, and “Pumped milk could be stored in the small mini-fridge downstairs.”

The attitude toward children in the main service is “Welcoming. 1-2 toddlers and kids run around in main service and people always wave at them/engage them. When kids are very loud, parents tend to take them out to the hallway.”

Bottlefeeding is also accepted as “Fine.” in this community.  People are generally indifferent to it.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received a rating of

  • Alright, it works pretty well- 3

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Daniel Silverstein

Contact via the website: http://stanfordminyan.org/contactus.html

Synagogue Website: http://stanfordminyan.org/

Breastfeeding at: The Kehilla, Atlanta, GA, USA

The Kehilla, in Atlanta (Sandy Springs), Georgia, USA

Updated (originally posted 12/16/15) with additional details and rating.

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.

“Rabbi said there’s nothing problematic, natural. He said [breastfeeding is] permitted before the Torah, even during shmona esrei [the 18 blessings: a main portion of the service]. There are no limitations. One woman chooses no cover, and while some choose not to hide their discomfort, the shul has not issued a statement that this isn’t permitted.”  Another respondent adds that “most people wear nursing covers”.  

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no designated or private nursing room/space, but “There’s a baby playroom, but people are in and out of it.”  It is labelled “Baby Room” and is in a central location.  It has “a couple of couches and a rocker. Also, kids running around and toys.”  It is accessible.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

This community’s reaction to breastfeeding is “Mixed. I choose to nurse with a cover in the sanctuary and any other spaces, even walking around with baby in a carrier. Some have suggested to other nursing moms that there’s a comfortable couch in the baby room. No one has said anything to my face. I think there’s misinformation, people don’t understand that Rabbi has said it’s not problematic.”  Visiting speakers have made breastfeeding more uncomfortable in the past.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the baby playroom.  Strollers are parked in the hallway.  There is space for kids’ toys and supplies.  One respondent indicated that this includes a refrigerator available for pumped milk, another believes not.  It may be a matter of making arrangements, or something may have changed, I don’t know.

“The attitude toward children in the main service is “currently a tense topic, with some believing their presence is essential to chinukh [Jewish education], and some believing they should be “seen but not heard.”

“Part of the struggle is that we are a young, new community. We have only been around 6 years, and babies have just shown up in the last 3. We are in the middle of a baby boom, and the community seems excited but confused about how to approach it.”

Bottlefeeding is equally accepted in this community: “A majority nurse.  No real discussion around those using bottles. ”

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

  • Okay, it is just workable enough- 4
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2

out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Karmi Ingber (via the website) at http://www.thekehilla.org/contact/rabbi/Synagogue

Website: http://www.thekehilla.org/

Reviews of Synagogue Breastfeeding Arrangements