Congregation Beth Shalom, in Seattle, Washington, USA
Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:
It is permitted. “The head rabbi has explicitly told individuals that they are welcome to nurse in the sanctuary without a cover. However, it is not a well-known policy.” A mother writes that “I did so for over a year. I did get several comments from other congregants, including ushers, requesting that I cover while nursing. There are also chairs immediately outside the sanctuary and I once overheard a congregant tell a visitor that they were intended as a space for breastfeeding, implying that breastfeeding was not welcome in the sanctuary. So, the staff encourage it, but their opinions are not well known or acknowledged.”
Private Nursing Locations:
If you want to nurse in private, the location to use is the Rabbi’s or office. The offices are near the entrance to the synagogue. It is on the main floor, but you need to ask around to find it. It is very comfortable, with a couch and a coffee table, and it is accessible on Shabbat.
The website and other publications offer no policy about breastfeeding.
The community is supportive and positive about breastfeeding as a practice, although the experience is more comfortable if you use a cover while in the sanctuary. Not using a cover there may draw some comments, not all of them pleasant.
General Child Friendliness:
There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom and the men’s bathrooms. People leave strollers “in the entry way next to the door”. Kids’ stuff is left on their strollers or by the family’s seats in the sanctuary.
The attitude toward children in the main service is “generally positive. If there’s a single screech or cry, people don’t bat an eye. Prolonged crying/disruptive noise, the child should get taken outside. But no one will be upset about it. Generally there is space in the back for children to play quietly. Many young children accompany their parents into the sanctuary.”
Bottlefeeding in shul is also common and unremarkable.
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.
Rabbis at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Synagogue Website: http://www.bethshalomseattle.org/