Tag Archives: synagogue breastfeeding

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.


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”.


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!


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

Some So-Far Summaries

I’m in a lull, in terms of new responses.  It may well be a pre-Pesach lull.  So in the meantime, here are some statistics from the information we’ve gathered together, so far.

And if these statistics motivate you to share this with friends or family, that would be even better, right?

So here we go:

90% of synagogues have no way of communicating where they permit or encourage breastfeeding, short of contacting a staff or clergy person.

57% permit breastfeeding in the sanctuary.

49% have a location set up for breastfeeding.

46% of  those locations are totally unlabeled.

13% have no changing table at all.

7% have a fridge where parents can store a bottle of pumped milk.

5 rabbis open their offices to nursing parents wanting quiet/privacy to feed their babies.

2 communities are unfriendly to bottle-feeding.


Breastfeeding At: Special Summary About Unnamed Israeli Synagogues

I’ve received a few questionnaires that describe synagogues in Israel that don’t seem to have any name.  So far, I’ve gotten 3 such responses (out of a bit over 100 total responses)- so it can’t be so unusual there.

Going forward, I’ve modified the questionnaire to ask for alternative identifiers.

But so that you can see as much as I do, here are a few quick things that I’ve noticed.

-Two permit, very comfortably: “Simply, it’s what is done. In this particular shul, the mechitza is constructed in such a way that men and women can’t see each other, so it feels less complex.” and “As far as I know there’s no written policy, there have just always been nursing mothers in Shul, both with and without covers”, while at the last, it isn’t and the mother who filled out the questionnaire writes that she “got yelled at for trying with a cover”.

-I don’t have enough evidence to think about whether they are representative of local communities- one of these is even anonymous enough to be in an unnamed Yishuv, while the others are in Jerusalem (and like the other few I’ve gotten information about, has been very open to breastfeeding), and in Haifa (not open to it at all).  But I have no other questionnaires about Haifa synagogues, so I really can’t say anything.

-I do notice that Israeli synagogues seem not to have diaper changing tables anywhere.  I have not yet received a questionnaire where an Israeli synagogue is reported to have a changing table.

That’s what I saw as useful or interesting to share from these synagogues.  I look forward to broadening this blog’s reporting about Israeli synagogues- especially if we can get the identification thing down.