Tag Archives: Supportive Rabbi/Clergy

Breastfeeding at Fort Tryon Jewish Center (FTJC), Manhattan, NY

Fort Tryon Jewish Center in Manhattan, New York, USA

Originally posted 6/6/2015, Updated 7/20/16

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted and welcome in the service, with and without a cover, both officially and socially.

Previously, it was understood that breastfeeding was best done at the back, but this is no longer the case.  Some people are comfortable nursing in the midst of the regular seating, some others choose not to.

Private Nursing Locations:

There are two chairs for nursing in the entry room to the upstairs bathroom (a separate room), which also has a changing station.

Other Information:

The Fort Tryon Jewish Center currently meets at the Hebrew Tabernacle for most services.  When they meet elsewhere (for example, private homes/apartments), obviously, some of this information won’t be entirely accurate.

The policy was developed through consultation between the rabbi and congregants when several waves of new babies were born in a short period of time.   The policy was then announced in a drasha by the rabbi, a few years ago.  (Policy made public and clear- I love clear communication!)  However it is not shared on the website or in other materials.

Nursing is welcomed by this community, and one may  stay in the main seats while nursing.

Genera Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in both the women’s and gender neutral bathrooms.  Strollers are parked outside or in the stairwell, and there is space for children’s needed supplies.

The main service is “very welcoming; toy corner and block corner in back. However, kids are expected to play quietly.”  One parent thinks the set-up prevents kids from sitting quietly up front with their toys, instead of in back.

Bottlefeeding is welcomed and comfortable in this community, both during services and other programming.

Wrap-Up:

This synagogue received ratings of

    • Alright, it works pretty well- 3
    • Alright, it works pretty well- 3

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

Contact Information:

Rabbi Guy Austrian at rabbi@ftjc.org

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

 

Breastfeeding at: Adas Israel, Washington, DC

Adas Israel, in Washington, DC, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  “I’ve done it and women do it every week. Not sure about a written policy but the Rabbis have spoken extensively about it”.  It is generally comfortable and accepted.

Private Nursing Locations:

The private nursing space is the bridal room, which is labeled as the “Bride’s room”.  It is located on the “Main floor, near the Beit Midrash and one of the sanctuaries”.  It’s usually unlocked during services, but sometimes you need to ask a staff member to unlock it.  Inside the room there’s also a bathroom with it’s own door and lock. The room is stocked with a boppy and changing pad as well.

There are some accessibility limitations- contact the synagogue if you know you have particular needs, since I don’t have particulars as to whether the only issue is that it is sometimes locked, or if there are other limitations.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is generally “Very pro breastfeeding, wherever and whenever. I’ve seen clergy spouses nursing in the sanctuary without a cover. I’ve done it myself.”

The connection to get this review came from a piece in Kveller  (Read it by clicking here ) where the author says of Adas Israel: ”

our congregation—Adas Israel, in Washington, DC—is about the most kid-friendly place I have ever been.

Walk into our main sanctuary on any given Saturday and amidst the chanting and praying and shuffling of pages, you’ll hear a symphony of children’s voices. Laughing, singing, crying, asking questions—doing all the things kids do. Look around and you’ll see kids on the bimah, kids in the pews with their families, kids walking the aisles, mamas nursing babies, papas clutching kids under a tallis as they rock rhythmically back and forth. In one service, you’ll even find a play area for kids off to the side of the room.”

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the Women’s bathrooms, Men’s bathrooms, Family/children’s bathroom, and the Nursing Room.  People leave strollers in the coat room.  There is space for kids’ stuff, including a fridge for pumped milk.

“Children [are] encouraged in all services and welcomed onto the bimah throughout”.

There is a Tot Shabbat service at 11am for children 5 and under.

Bottlefeeding is also accepted here; the community is “generally positive on feeding babies however they need to be fed”.

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:

Main contact: adasoffice@adasisrael.org

Senior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf at Rabbi.Steinlauf@adasisrael.org

Cantor Arianne Brown at Cantor.Brown@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Aaron Alexander at Rabbi.Alexander@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt at Rabbi.Holtzblatt@adasisrael.org

Rabbi Kerrith Rosenbaum at Rabbi.Rosenbaum@adasisrael.org

Synagogue Website: http://adasisrael.org/

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

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: Woodstock Jewish Congregation- Kehillat Lev Shalem, Woodstock, NY

Kehillat Lev Shalem- Woodstock Jewish Congregation, in Woodstock, New York, USA

Nursing in the Sanctuary:

Breastfeeding is permitted in the service.  “Members have invited us to come to services with our little kids — they had to know it would happen.”

Private Nursing Locations:

There is no private breastfeeding location.

Other Information:

No information is publicized about the synagogue policy on breastfeeding.

“Most people in the synagogue are fairly progressive. I do notice that because I am still BFing my 2-y-o, some people kind of look surprised when they see us — but also he doesn’t nurse that often any more so it doesn’t happen all that often.”

General Child Friendliness:

There is a changing table in the Women’s bathrooms, and in the Men’s bathrooms. There is no stroller parking or space for kids’ stuff.

“They do a great job of having alternative programming for kids during main services. I’ve always felt that I can bring my kids to services, but if they are unruly people do talk to them about it. (Not in a stern/punishing way, but asking them to behave.)”

I have no information about bottlefeeding at this synagogue.  If you do, please do share 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 Aura Bartfeld Ahuvia at rabbiaura@wjcshul.org

Synagogue website: http://www.wjcshul.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: Beth El Synagogue, St. Louis Park, MN

Beth El Synagogue, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  People “feel very comfortable nursing anywhere in the synagogue”.

Private Nursing Locations:

There is a Nursing Room next to the main sanctuary.  It is labelled.  It contains “two chairs, a bathroom, and a changing table”, and is accessible on Shabbat and during the week.

Other Information:

The website offers no policy about breastfeeding.

The community is “positive and accommodating” to breastfeeding.

General Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables available in the women’s bathrooms, the men’s bathrooms, the family/children’s bathroom, and in the nursing room.  There is stroller parking, and space for kids toys and diaper bags (but not a fridge for pumped milk), in the coat closet area.

Children in the main service are “Very welcomed. We have Shabbat friendly toy bags available for young children and a quiet room connected to the sanctuary with viewing access to services”

Bottle feeding is regarded as “just as positive as breast feeding” in this community.

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 Alexander Davis

Rabbi Avi Olitzky at aolitzky@bethelsynagogue.org

Director of Shorashim and Young Families Engagement at aawend@bethelsynagogue.org;

Or via the website:  http://www.bethelsynagogue.org/pages/email.php?to=ad

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