Breastfeeding at: Congregation Beth Israel, Berkeley, CA

Congregation Beth Israel, in Berkeley, California, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  It is also done fairly often, mostly by women using a cover.  Some mothers feel a need for more discretion/covering than they would elsewhere.  Others feel uncomfortable nursing in the sanctuary, but it is unclear to me if that is due to personal beliefs or the attitude of the community.

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no designated nursing room/space, but many mothers nurse comfortably on the benches in the social hall.  (These are padded benches arranged in a rectangle in part of the social hall.  There is space there for older children to play quietly as well.  Nursing covers seem to be the norm, but women who don’t use them are not frowned at.

Other women get access to use the Rabbi’s or the Maharat’s office to breastfeed in.  The offices are near the entrance to the synagogue.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is supportive and positive about breastfeeding.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom and the men’s bathrooms.  People leave strollers in the social hall.  Kids’ stuff s left on their strollers or on the benches in the social hall.

The attitude toward children in the main service is mixed.  Some find it positive, others are uncomfortable.  One mother said “Most people smile and are chill about it. There are a few old timers that make some of the moms feel more self-conscious. Generally though, if my kids are behaving reasonably and aren’t loud, I feel okay there. Kids go across the bima to switch between moms and dads and no one seems to mind.”.

While ” the norm is breastfeeding, but I have never heard anyone say anything rude or judgmental if someone wasn’t. That said, I can’t recall seeing people bottle feeding in our shul much if at all.”

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

  • Alright, it works pretty well- 3
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2

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

Contact Information:

Rabbi Yonaton Cohen at rabbi@cbiberkeley.org

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

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