Category Archives: Orthodox Synagogue

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: Stanford Minyan, Palo Alto, CA

Stanford Minyan, in Palo Alto, California, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  “There is no written policy regarding nursing (or essentially anything) but I’ve done it and no one batted an eye.”  However, she notes that “I was deep in the women’s section and was wearing a cover so no skin showed. I would have felt less comfortable if I were more exposed but only because it’s a small minyan and it would make me stand out.”

Private Nursing Locations:

There is a “room across hall from sanctuary”, that is a study lounge, and is usually private.  “Quirks include that anyone can technically walk in (but this rarely happens in practice and if so, you can sit/nurse so you see them before they see you).”  It is labeled “Lounge”, and contains “2 big comfortable couches and pillows.”  It is accessible on Shabbat.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is generally “Pro-breastfeeding. I know due to private discussions I’ve had about it with community members. That said, there are so few mothers of young children/babies that folks are more pro-breastfeeding in theory than in practice. Most members of the community are students (younger) and baby boomers (older).”

General Child Friendliness:

There are no changing tables available.  “We sometimes pull a table into the women’s or men’s bathroom downstairs to change diapers. Or just change them on the floor/couches.”  People leave strollers “downstairs near kiddush.”  Kids’ stuff s left wherever is convenient, and “Pumped milk could be stored in the small mini-fridge downstairs.”

The attitude toward children in the main service is “Welcoming. 1-2 toddlers and kids run around in main service and people always wave at them/engage them. When kids are very loud, parents tend to take them out to the hallway.”

Bottlefeeding is also accepted as “Fine.” in this community.  People are generally indifferent to it.

Wrap-Up:

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.

Contact Information:

Rabbi Daniel Silverstein

Contact via the website: http://stanfordminyan.org/contactus.html

Synagogue Website: http://stanfordminyan.org/

Breastfeeding at: The Kehilla, Atlanta, GA, USA

The Kehilla, in Atlanta (Sandy Springs), Georgia, USA

Updated (originally posted 12/16/15) with additional details and rating.

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.

“Rabbi said there’s nothing problematic, natural. He said [breastfeeding is] permitted before the Torah, even during shmona esrei [the 18 blessings: a main portion of the service]. There are no limitations. One woman chooses no cover, and while some choose not to hide their discomfort, the shul has not issued a statement that this isn’t permitted.”  Another respondent adds that “most people wear nursing covers”.  

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no designated or private nursing room/space, but “There’s a baby playroom, but people are in and out of it.”  It is labelled “Baby Room” and is in a central location.  It has “a couple of couches and a rocker. Also, kids running around and toys.”  It is accessible.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

This community’s reaction to breastfeeding is “Mixed. I choose to nurse with a cover in the sanctuary and any other spaces, even walking around with baby in a carrier. Some have suggested to other nursing moms that there’s a comfortable couch in the baby room. No one has said anything to my face. I think there’s misinformation, people don’t understand that Rabbi has said it’s not problematic.”  Visiting speakers have made breastfeeding more uncomfortable in the past.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the baby playroom.  Strollers are parked in the hallway.  There is space for kids’ toys and supplies.  One respondent indicated that this includes a refrigerator available for pumped milk, another believes not.  It may be a matter of making arrangements, or something may have changed, I don’t know.

“The attitude toward children in the main service is “currently a tense topic, with some believing their presence is essential to chinukh [Jewish education], and some believing they should be “seen but not heard.”

“Part of the struggle is that we are a young, new community. We have only been around 6 years, and babies have just shown up in the last 3. We are in the middle of a baby boom, and the community seems excited but confused about how to approach it.”

Bottlefeeding is equally accepted in this community: “A majority nurse.  No real discussion around those using bottles. ”

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

  • Okay, it is just workable enough- 4
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2

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

Contact Information:

Rabbi Karmi Ingber (via the website) at http://www.thekehilla.org/contact/rabbi/Synagogue

Website: http://www.thekehilla.org/

Breastfeeding at: Ohev Shalom National Synagogue, Washington, DC, USA

Ohev Shalom National Synagogue, in Washington, DC, USA

Updated:New Private Nursing Location, rating, parental experiences

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It may or may not be permitted, but “I wouldn’t want to there”. “It’s not welcomed, and is likely frowned upon.”

Private Nursing Locations:
Update: “It’s a closed off area behind the sanctuary. There are several comfy chairs and benches. An email was sent out to the congregation when it was announced.” It “s much bigger and much more available than the space they used to have, but it is not exactly labelled and terribly advertised.”

(Previously: “There used to be a nursing room, but that was transformed to the Maharat’s office and now there is not a good place.”)

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

“I’ve definitely nursed my child in the hall where they serve lunch. I’ve done it with a cover, and without, but while she was in a soft carrier and little to nothing showed.”

“I think that they are working to make changes and make it a more welcoming space. As people make their needs known, they have been responding.”

General Child Friendliness:

There is a changing table available in the hall/stair area outside of the women’s bathroom.  People leave strollers in the social hall or “a back entrance to the synagogue that leads right to the area where communal kiddushes/lunches are held.”.  There is space for kids’ stuff.

The attitude toward children in the main service is described as welcoming by one parent, while another feels that children in the main service “Should be seen and not heard. They offer programming for children of various ages, and babies are welcome there as well.”.

Please share information about Bottlefeeding in this community!

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

  • Horrid, I’ll never go back with a breastfeeding baby ever- 7
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2

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

Contact Information:

Rabbi Shmuel Hertzfeld at RabbiShmuel@ostns.org

Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman at MaharatRuth@ostns.org

Synagogue Website: http://ostt.org/

Breastfeeding at: Lubavitch of Iowa (Chabad), Des Moines, IA

Lubavitch of Iowa (Chabad), in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.

“The Chabad shul is located in the basement of the rabbi’s home. The family keeps their home open to everyone who comes to pray. They have invited me into the living room upstairs to nurse, but they are equally open to nursing in the shul itself.  The shul is located in the basement, with an entrance through the garage on the same level. The shul has tables and chairs in both the women’s and men’s spaces, and the women’s side also has couches. ”

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no designated or private nursing room/space, but “The shul is in the Chabad family’s home. While there isn’t a dedicated room, there is almost always a space where privacy can be found.  The rebbitzen can direct you to a semi-private space.”

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

“Everyone is very welcoming of breastfeeding.”  “I have breastfed many times in the Chabad home. The family welcomes visitors anytime on Shabbat, and there are often people over until late in the afternoon. Since my child refuses to eat when under a cover, I recently hinted to the rebbitzen, while everyone sat in the living room, that I have no problem nursing uncovered even with the rabbi and 2 of their sons present. To block the men’s view while I nursed, I draped my jacket over my opposite shoulder, and she helped me by holding up the other end.”

It is important to know that the community does not have an eruv. Therefore, it is almost impossible to bring young children to shul on Shabbat if you are traditionally 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 synagogue in these situations.  If this is a need or concern for you, discussing with your rabbi may provide some options, and is what I would recommend.  If you don’t have a rabbi with whom to discuss, please contact me.)

General Child Friendliness:

There are no changing tables available.  “Since this is a family home, they’re open to you laying a changing pad anywhere you’d like.” “Strollers can be left in the garage or in the basement.”  There is space for kids’ toys and supplies, including a refrigerator available for pumped milk.

“Children are welcome in the service. Parents usually ask their children to be quiet during davening [prayers], but there is a space they can play just outside the doors. Books are available, and there are toys that children are welcome to play with upstairs.”

Bottlefeeding is equally accepted in this community.  “I chose to bottle feed my then 4 week old on Simchat Torah because the crowd was too large to afford much privacy. Everyone was equally accepting, but I was met with a curious look from one person who knows that I breastfeed.”

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 Yossi Jacobson at jrcspark@msn.com

Synagogue Website: http://www.jewishiowa.com/

Breastfeeding at: Young Israel of Brookline, Brookline, MA

Young Israel of Brookline in Brookline, Massachussetts, USA

Updated with more nursing room details, additional changing table location, additional rating (Originally published June 10, 2015)

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It nay or may not be permitted, but has been done.  The respondent adds that “I would guess no one would bother a woman nursing under a cover in the upstairs section. I’m not sure about a woman who would nurse without a cover or in the downstairs section.”  She does not have personal experience nursing in the sanctuary, not having thought to do so.

Private Nursing Locations:

There is a nursing room, called the Nursing Mothers’ Room/Bride Room.  It is near the upstairs women’s section, and is attached to the main women’s bathroom but separated from it by a door.  That door (the one from the bathroom) is labeled, but the other door is not.  People tend to find it by asking around. There are two chairs.  “Usually women who are using it lock the door so a second woman can’t gain access without the first woman letting her in.  Sometimes kids play in there but they leave when you kick them out.” It is not accessible if you use most mobility aids (wheelchair, etc).

Other Information:

There is no publicized information about the synagogue’s breastfeeding policy.

Congregational attitudes are comfortable with nursing using a nursing cover, which seems to be the communal norm.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in the women’s bathroom and men’s bathroom.  Many of the other bathrooms have long counters that are not designated as changing tables, but might be easily used as such.  Strollers are generally parked against the walls in the main hallway or outside the shul on the patio. There is a ramp to enter the building.  There is no particular space for children’s supplies.

Kids are expected to be quiet in the sanctuary. However, there is a fair amount of noise as a rule but no one says anything. People are only strict on Purim, the High Holidays, etc.  Kids do come in to the service to get candy all the time.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

  • “Alright, it works pretty well- 3” out of 7
  • Okay, it is just workable enough- 4
  • where 1 is the best rating, and 7 the worst.

    Contact Information:

    Rabbi David Hellman at rabbihellman@yibrookline.org

    Synagogue Website: www.yibrookline.org

    Breastfeeding at: Beth El Jacob, Des Moines, IA, USA

    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.”

    Other Information:

    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.

    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 Leib Bolel at rabbi@betheljacob.org

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