Category Archives: Midwest USA

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

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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/

Breastfeeding at: Congregation Beth Shalom, Overland Park, KS

Congregation Beth Shalom, in Overland Park, Kansas, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted, and done, discreetly.

Private Nursing Locations:

There are a variety of options for private nursing spaces, which are best found by asking around.  None are labeled.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding. The community is casual about breastfeeding.  The respondent’s attitude was: “I always got the job done and did not think about it too much in preparation”.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the women’s bathroom (ETA 8/10/15) and the men’s bathroom and the preschool.

People leave strollers in the main hallway.  There is space for kids’ stuff, including a fridge for pumped milk.

In the main service “children are welcome…if children are having a difficult time, [it is] usually up to the discretion of the parents about next moves…plenty of couches, chairs, etc in hallway outside” of the sanctuary.    “Our shul is an aging community and although we are activiely bringing new families and younger people in, it is in our best interests to do whatever it takes to make ourselves hospitable…”  There are “not a lot of established attitudes…the shut would love to have more babies/parents present…”  This suggests that bottle-feeding is also welcome in this community.

Wrap-Up: 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.

Contact Information:

Rabbi David Glickman at dglickman@bethshalomkc.org

Hazzan Tahl Ben-Yehuda at hazzantby@bethshalomkc.org

Synagogue Website: http://bethshalomkc.org/

A Breastfeeding At Shul Story: Creating A Synagogue Breastfeeding Policy

While I wait for more reviews to come in (if you can, please fill one out here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1skGeYXiz85Ej5oWCL05uv5Ykf9uNvG08vfrx2–AHLM/viewform   or pass it on to your friends and family)

This is how the clergy at “Bais Abe” in St. Louis (review here)  developed their breastfeeding policy and signage.  This is the story in the words of Maharat Rori Picker Neiss.

“Last summer, someone approached me with a general question as to whether or not I knew of halakhic sources that discussed the permissibility/non-permissibility of nursing in a sanctuary or Beit Midrash. I did not, but I reached out to a number of colleagues to ask them if they knew of any. Most were male Orthodox rabbis, a number of whom had pulpits. Many responded to me to say that they did not know of any particular sources one way or another, but they did not think there was anything wrong with it.

I responded to say that many women do not feel that it would be a comfortable space to nurse in the synagogue in general, let alone in the sanctuary, and so if there were no halakhic sources against it then would they consider putting up signs in their shul saying it was permitted. I received no responses to that email.

So I decided we needed a sign to explicitly state that nursing would be welcome in the shul. I spoke with the rabbi and a few board members and we went through a few iterations of the sign.

The first one was very awkward and said something like “Nursing is welcome in the sanctuary with an appropriate cover.” And I shared it with colleagues who gave me very helpful feedback. Many questions had to do with the cover. As one person very profoundly pointed out, if we do not have a dress code posted anywhere, then why do we need to post a dress code for nursing? If we trust people to make appropriate choices for the shul in general, we should trust them to make appropriate choices with regard to nursing as well.

I also realized I was talking about the sanctuary only, but that I needed to make people comfortable in the whole shul, but also make clear that there were more private spaces available for those who chose.

The attached sign [stay tuned, I’m still figuring out how to get it up here] became the final product, emphasizing first and foremost that the shul was a space that is family-friendly and puts the values of family at our core, and that as part of that there are no areas of the shul unwelcome to nursing, as well as listing options for those who might seek a door with a lock and/or more comfortable seating. We posted the signs in the women’s section, auditorium, balcony and women’s bathroom– all places I thought women might see them and/or hide fearing that they needed to set themselves apart in order to nurse. “

Breastfeeding at Bais Abraham Congregation, St Louis, MO

Bais Abraham Congregation in St Louis, Missouri, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted and welcome, both officially and socially.

Private Nursing Locations:

Private nursing can be done in the Rabbis office and Maharats office, which are made available, as well as in the women’s restroom.  The rabbi’s office is behind the main sanctuary, and the maharat’s office is off the balcony.  Signs posted around the synagogue indicate what spaces are available and where to find them.  “Both the rabbi’s office and the maharat’s office have a door with a lock that can be used for additional privacy. Each office has an armchair as well as a couch for more comfortable nursing. Both offices are adjacent to the sanctuary so services can be heard from either space.”

Other Information:

Signs are posted at the front and back of the women’s side of the sanctuary, as well as on the balcony, in the auditorium, and in the women’s bathroom that nursing is welcome in all areas of the synagogue.  (Policy made public and clear- I love clear communication!)

Nursing anywhere in this shul is comfortable and welcomed.

Genera Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in both the women’s and the men’s bathrooms.  Strollers are parked in the main lobby and in front of the synagogue as well as in the side yard, and there is space for children’s needed supplies.

“Children are welcome in the main service. Congregants still share stories of the late rabbi who, upon hearing a baby cry, would say that their sounds were like prayers. Babies are always welcome. Older children are asked to be mindful of noise during services, but are never kicked out.”

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 Hyim Shafner at rabbi@baisabe.com

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss at maharat@baisabe.com

Synagogue Website:  www.baisabe.com

 

Breastfeeding at: Congregation Beth Shalom, Naperville, IL

Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville, Illinois, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted, and goes without comment.  Nursing without a cover is very comfortable.

Private Nursing Locations:

This is a very small synagogue, so it seems that there is not any special place for moms to breastfeed.  However, they could go to a room not being utilized at any given time and nurse in private there, and be welcome to do so.

Other Information:

No information about breastfeeding policy is publicized.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in the women’s bathroom.  There is not stroller parking, or space for children’s supplies.  However, children are very welcome in the main service.

Wrap-Up:

This congregation 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 Marc Rudolph on the website at http://www.napershalom.org/about-cbs/contact-us/?contact=939 (The same form can be used to direct email to the Cantor, Board members, and various committees)

Synagogue website: http://www.napershalom.org/

 

 

Breastfeeding at: Anshe Emet, Chicago, Illinois,

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.

Other Information:

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.

Wrap-Up:

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.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Michael Siegel at msiegel@ansheemet.org or (773) 281-1423

Rabbi David Russo at drusso@ansheemet.org,

Rabbi Abe Friedman at afriedman@ansheemet.org

Synagogue website: https://www.ansheemet.org/