Beth El Jacob, in Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:
It is permitted.
“I spoke with the rebbetzen when she had a newborn and I was pregnant. She mentioned that they have no problem with moms nursing in shul. The prayer space used on Shabbat is very small, with about 40 seats for men and 20 for women. It set up so that the women are in the back of the room. The partition is solid on the bottom and glass at the top, with an image of the Kotel obscuring the men’s view into the women’s section, but not blocking the women from seeing out. When standing, women can see over the top of the partition. I would recommend sitting in the center of a row for nursing, otherwise men seated on the ends can look over their shoulders and see you.”
Private Nursing Locations:
There is no designated or private nursing room/space, but “While there is not a dedicated nursing room, there is a children’s playroom, stocked with lots of toys (including some that make noise), that has couches. I have been very comfortable nursing in that space while my older child is playing with the other kids.”
The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.
This community is very welcoming to breastfeeding, and encourages it. “Most women use a nursing cover while feeding their babies. On weekdays I have comfortably nursed my baby in various public spaces in the building without a cover.”
It is important to know that “The community does not have an eruv. A very small eruv exists that only connects the rabbi’s house to the shul across the street and may not actually be kosher. Therefore, it is almost impossible to bring young children to shul on Shabbat” if you are observant of halakha. (However, there are some work-arounds, if you need- I know rabbinic families who hire a non-Jew to push their stroller to and from shul. If this is a need or concern for you, discussing with your rabbi may provide some options, and is what I would recommend.)
General Child Friendliness:
There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom. “Strollers are usually lined in the hallway, but there is also space in a classroom that is not used on shabbat”. There is space for kids’ toys and supplies, but no refrigerator available for pumped milk.
“The attitude toward children varies. The congregation is very welcoming and understanding of children. My older child runs around saying hello to everyone during the service and sometimes bringing over toys from the playroom. I have not yet been in shul on Shabbat with my 2 month old. ”
Bottlefeeding is equally accepted in this community.
This synagogue received a rating of
- Good, could make small improvements- 2
out of 7, where 1 is the best rating and 7 is the worst.
Rabbi Leib Bolel at email@example.com
Synagogue Website: http://www.betheljacob.org/