Anshe Emet in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:
It is unclear as to whether or not this is permitted, although it has been done. Most mothers prefer to breastfeed in a separate, nearby location (in at least one of the synagogues minyanim, this location is close enough to hear the service). Mothers seem to prefer the separate location, although they feel that nursing in the sanctuary with a cover would be fine, if they were personally comfortable with it. There seems to be a cultural preference for the other location.
Private Nursing Locations:
Many mothers nurse in a small antechamber that opens into the main seating place. It’s a little more secluded, but still allows nursing mothers to hear the service. It also is separate enough for quiet chatting. It also is a freer space for nursing without a cover.
There is no designated nursing space, but besides the preferred antechamber, women also use the women’s bathroom bench, a comfortable chair in the youth lounge, a bench in the hallway, or a chair in the tot service room as additional nursing spaces. Since none are designated nursing spaces, none have signs. Finding the spaces is by word-of-mouth.
There is no posted policy about breastfeeding.
The community is very supportive of breastfeeding, and several mothers reported that they had been encouraged to feel free to nurse without a cover, if they wanted. One woman reported that “The Rabbi’s wife nursed their new daughter during her baby naming on the bima.” Anshe Emet’s community is very open to breastfeeding, but the building/institution are less conducive than the community. There is a defact breastfeeding area but no real, useful breastfeeding area.
General Child Friendliness:
There are changing tables in the women’s bathrooms, men’s bathrooms, and a family/children’s bathroom. Strollers are generally parked outside the Malcov Chapel or in the sukkah, weather permitting. During the High Holidays, strollers are parked outdoors only. Opinions differ as to whether there is space for children’s needed supplies.
In the smaller (Rose Crown) minyan, children are somewhat welcome, but tend to stay in the back of the service, where their toys are accepted. If they make too much noise, they are to be taken out. One time someone encouraged one mother to take her daughter to the kids service instead. However, as there is an extensive babysitting room, and multiple youth services, most parents do not tend to include their kids in the main service as it’s easier to keep them in the babysitting room.
In the main minyan, the rabbi welcomes kids, but the expectation is that crying children will be taken out until they’ve calmed down.
This synagogue has been reviewed 3 times. It has received ratings of:
- “Okay, it is just workable enough- 4”
- “Good, could make small improvements- 2”
- “Alright, it works pretty well- 3”
out of 7, where 1 is the best score, and 7 the worst.
Rabbi Michael Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 281-1423
Rabbi David Russo at email@example.com,
Rabbi Abe Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Synagogue website: https://www.ansheemet.org/