June 18, 2024
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‘I Was Supposed to Have a Baby’ Presents Inaugural Global Summit on Zoom This Sunday, May 7

One of the most pervasive challenges that wells up under the radar in our communities is the challenge of infertility. Privately, as it needs to be, families or families-to-be often agonize under the strain and struggles of infertility. And to dispel some common misperceptions, not all families with children are immune from fertility difficulties, and not all couples without children are necessarily struggling with infertility. Within the “halls of sensitivity,” it’s just best not to make assumptions, and maybe more so, not to judge, and perhaps preferred, to avoid offering opinions without first asking if they are wanted. And if offering support, sensitively and thoughtfully find out if and how a couple or family wants to be supported.

“I Was Supposed To Have a Baby” (IWSTHAB) is proud to present “The Inaugural Global Jewish Fertility Support Summit” this coming Sunday, May 7. The summit will consist of two 90-minute webinars with distinguished panels of professionals from the Jewish fertility space, who will present with organizer, moderator and founder of IWSTHAB Aimee Baron, MD, FAAP. The format will consist of two sets of three panels, the first three presenting consecutively at noon, and the second set of three panels beginning at 8 p.m.

Each panel is planned to be approximately 25 minutes. Starting at noon, the theme for the first set of three panels is entitled: “Multi-Faceted Conversations About Fertility Challenges Individuals and Couples Face.” According to summit planners, directed by Dr. Aimee Baron, “Those who struggle to build a family deal with many emotions as they navigate this sometimes long and lonely path. This program will provide validation, comfort and support to those dealing with any fertility struggle.” Dr. Baron, herself no stranger to secondary infertility and pregnancy loss, understands in a very personal way what others are experiencing and feeling in the throes of infertility and loss. “When I was crying in my bed after one of my miscarriages, I felt so alone. It never occurred to me that there could possibly be anyone else in the world who felt the way I did. Now, as the head of IWSTHAB, I feel gratified knowing that thousands of people feel supported during their fertility journeys.”

“Though infertility and loss cross the geographical and religious boundaries of all people, elevated numbers in the Jewish community and cultural distinctions unique to Judaism leave us with unique hurdles to overcome,” said IWSTHAB.

The first panel, “So You’re Not Getting Pregnant: Accepting Your Diagnosis, Navigating Jewish Law and Fertility Treatments, and Relationship Challenges,” will be presented by three experts: Chani Levertov, founder and director, Fruitful; Michal Roness, coordinator of Yoatzot Halacha Fertility Counselor Project and Nishmat Ha-Bayit Research Institute; and Suzanne Sackstein, PhD, founder and director, Malka Ella Fertility Fund. The second noontime panel, “The Waiting Game: Financial Struggles, Spiritual Crises, and Third Party Reproduction,” will be led by experts Rachi Hain, BSW, founder, Merkaz Panim, and Rabbi Idit Solomon, founder and CEO, Hasidah.

According to IWSTHAB, one in six Jewish couples experiences infertility. One in four pregnancies ends with a loss. The path is often anything but straightforward. The third noontime panel is, “You Are Not Defined by This: Self-Care, Boundaries, and How to Advocate for Yourself.” Karen Friedman, PhD, founding director of Keren Gefen; Susie Holder, MSc clinical psychology, clinical lead, of Chana; and Rabbi Elan Segelman, rabbinic director of America, Puah, are all uniquely qualified by their experience and training.

The second set of three panels begins at 8 p.m., with the overall theme of “… And How Communities, Clergy, Lay Leaders, Friends, and Family Can Best Support Them.” The opening evening panel discusses, “This Affects All Of Us: How Communities Can Show They Care.” Panelists are Gila Block, executive director, Yesh Tikva; Elana Frank, CEO and founder, Jewish Fertility Foundation; and Rabbi David Glickman, senior rabbi, Congregation Beth Shalom, of Priya. The evening’s second panel is, “Why Is the Rabbi Asking When I’m Having Kids? Sensitivity Training for Clergy and Lay Leaders.” This panel is hosted by Reva Judas, founder and director, NechamaComfort; Alex Peyser, MD, co-founder, Stardust; and Justine Saidman, CEO, The Australian Jewish Fertility Network.

The concluding panel of the summit addresses “What to Say/What Not to Say: Friends and Family Edition.” Aliza Abrams Konig, surrogacy support, IWSTHAB, joins with Gail Miller, MD, founder, Path Onward Life Coaching, and Dr. Bill Petok, PhD, clinical associate professor of OB-GYN, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

The last summit, in 2021, had more than 2,000 in attendance, and they are hoping for double this year. Of importance to many is that anonymity is guaranteed. Web cameras will be set to “off” by the moderator for the entirety of the program, and any registration information will be kept strictly confidential.

Sammi Cutler, director of development, shared these thoughts, “Reading the testimonials, and hearing the stories of the thousands of individuals and couples we are helping, is extremely meaningful. IWSTHAB is making a huge impact for so many people going through something challenging and difficult!”

Julia Kolodny, administrative assistant, does a lot of the back-end work. “I am always amazed to see the impact our staff has on the community when I receive emails from people who utilize our services. The immense gratitude and appreciation people have for those that provide support reminds me that our impact is exponential and significant in changing lives.”

Lielle Sugar, director of programming, commented on what is most meaningful to her: “Knowing that we are systemically changing the way our community approaches these difficult issues, and finding more community members who credit IWSTHAB with feeling comfortable approaching these sensitive subjects in ways that support, embrace and hold space for people who are struggling.”

“Being able to provide a space and community for people to share both the most painful and most joyous moments of their lives,” means a lot to Karen Ghelman, social media coordinator, especially when people tell them, “Thank you for letting me know I’m normal and I’m not alone.”

For more information or to register for the summit, visit https://iwassupposedtohaveababy.org/global-summit/#programs.

By Ellie Wolf

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