Since its formation in 2018 under the umbrella of Young Israel of Teaneck’s Adult Education Committee, the Dvora Golowa a”h Women’s Learning Initiative Sunday Night Learning Program (SNL) has hosted women who have inspired the larger Jewish community through their talent and determination. YIOT President Dror Barber and his wife, Shani, established the program in memory of their cousin Dvora Golowa, z”l, who passed away tragically in 2013. They felt that a learning program dedicated to exemplary women would be a fitting, ongoing tribute. Devora Golowa was a strong-minded, determined, giving and kind person who put her passion for justice into practice professionally as she served as an assistant district attorney and first deputy bureau chief. Her love of learning Torah and Jewish texts was exemplary as was the love she shared with family and friends.
Aliza Ellberger and Shaina Krumholtz, who coordinated the program, shared: “The SNL Program was created to be an engaging and inspirational series focusing on topics and issues relevant to the women of our community. Past speakers hosted by the series include Beattie Deutsch, the Charedi American-Israeli champion marathon runner who inspired the world through her success despite odds both physical and ideological. Also addressing the program was Keshet Starr from ORA, the organization advocating for agunot and assisting them in achieving resolution. Shuli Taubes, noted Torah scholar, presented an in-depth session in Jewish philosophy. Plans for additional speakers this coming year include Rebbetzin Dr. Smadar Rosensweig, who will present in November on powerful recurring themes in Tanach.”
In selecting Dr. Aimee Baron to address the program before the upcoming Yomim Noraim, Ellberger noted that during our personal prayers throughout the yamim tovim, we should be mindful of the issues being dealt with by members of our larger community including the painful challenges of infertility and loss.
Aimee Baron, MD, FAAP, is the founder and director of I Was Supposed to Have a Baby (IWSTHAB), which provides a warm and nurturing space for those going through infertility, pregnancy loss, infant loss, surrogacy or adoption. In addition to connecting families to existing resources in the Jewish community, IWSTHAB utilizes social platforms to support Jewish individuals and families from the entire spectrum of the Jewish community who are struggling to have a child, offering modern solutions to this issue. Before founding IWSTHAB, Baron practiced as an attending physician in the Newborn Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Taking a leave of absence after experiencing her third miscarriage, Baron served as the director of innovation and growth at NechamaComfort, a Teaneck-based organization dealing with perinatal loss. In 2019 she launched the IWSTHAB social media community on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to bring emotional support and comfort directly to those who needed it.
Baron shared: “The year was 2007 and I had just lost my fifth pregnancy. I was drowning in pain when Rebecca was the first person to truly understand what I was experiencing having experienced multiple miscarriages herself. She let me cry and gave me support, love and validation. In 2019, I launched IWSTHAB to give others what Rebecca gave me. While many organizations help those on their journeys with medical, financial and halachic guidance, none offer a round-the-clock supportive community like IWSTHAB.”
At the recent SNL program, hosted at the Lefkowitz home in the Country Club area of Teaneck, Baron’s topic was “I Just Want to Fit In: How to Make Yomim Noraim more welcoming for anyone struggling to have a baby.” She advised both the struggling group as well as the community in the do’s and don’ts of dealing with the issue of fertility during the chagim. Suggestions for the struggling community included making your boundaries clear, trying to minimize or avoid uncomfortable social situations during the chagim, and standing up for what you need. The outside community should respect the boundaries and wishes of those experiencing the challenge, include them in family gatherings only if they are willing to attend, treat them like adults, and provide buffers to run interference when needed. Key is to listen to them actively and make them feel safe when confiding in you. Baron provided examples of verbal responses that are comforting versus those that cause further pain.
Baron exuded both competence and compassion in discussing the all-too-prevalent issues of infertility and its emotional ramifications. She assured the audience that because she retains a staff of five, she is able to field all questions that come in personally. Baron remained after the formal session to meet with individuals.
Services offered through Baron’s organization IWSTHAB include four monthly peer-to-peer support groups, giving voice to diverse fertility challenges including primary and secondary infertility, misscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss, pregnancy after loss, IVF for genetic reasons and termination for medical reasons. Future topics to be explored include male infertility, egg freezing and childlessness. To date IWSTHAB has over 18,000 Instagram and TikTok followers, with more than 2,000 daily views on Instagram and more than 50 direct messages answered daily.
The “Taking Away the Taboo” podcast, to date having presented more than 81 episodes, hosts engaging speakers who approach “taboo” topics with sensitivity and grace. The Biannual Jewish Family Summit features candid conversations with the most prominent voices in female support, representing organizations across the U.S. and the world.
For more information or to book Dr. Aimee Baron to speak for your community go to [email protected]
For Instagram go to @iwassupposedtohaveababy
For podcasts go to iwassupposedtohaveababy.org/podcast
To contact Aliza Ellberger at YIOT, email her at [email protected]