Religion & Beliefs

What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting

Yesterday in my fiction workshop we talked about a story I wrote in which a Jewish woman has a miscarriage. The two other guys in the class, who aren’t Jewish, were really surprised to find that Judaism doesn’t have a … Read More

By / April 24, 2007

Yesterday in my fiction workshop we talked about a story I wrote in which a Jewish woman has a miscarriage. The two other guys in the class, who aren’t Jewish, were really surprised to find that Judaism doesn’t have a set ritual having to do with infertility. We mourn for adults, but when a woman miscarries there’s no set liturgy, nothing she has to do or say, even at a time when she’s likely struggling with her faith and her connection to God. While there isn’t a traditional ritual that women have been doing for thousands of years, there are plenty of recently written resources and guides for women (and their partners) who are having trouble conceiving. Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue, edited by Susan Grossman and Rivka Hunt does actually have a prayer/meditation that’s been composed for women who’ve lost a pregnancy. It’s beautiful, and the book is very useful for all kinds of other situations. Well worth a look at your local Jewish bookstore. Other books that are more specifically about Jewish infertility are And Hannah Wept: Infertility, Adoption and the Jewish Couple by Michael Gold, and Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope, A Jewish Spiritual Companion for Infertility, by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin. There are tons of great resources online, too. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance has an awesome site full of links to everything from transcribed lectures on Jewish infertility, to message boards and blogs. Check out Chana’s Prayer, which bills itself as “a refuge for Jewish women who are experiencing the challenges of infertility and/or pregnancy loss. In a community that places great focus on family life, the pain associated with difficulty in conception and childbearing are often profound and unique. Here, you will find women who can relate to your experiences.” Pretty great. I read three awesome blogs by women with infertility issues. They don’t all talk much about infertility at the moment, since all three now have children, but the archives are full of great stuff, and they’re all excellent writers. There’s Julie at a little pregnant, Dawn at this woman’s work, and the always hilarious leery polyp. And there’s a great essay over at Nextbook about going to the mikveh with a pregnant woman as a therapeutic response to infertility. If you’re lucky enough not to have infertility issues, but you have a friend who just miscarried, or is having trouble getting pregnant, keep in mind that she’s grieving. She deserves at least some of the respect and help that we give people who are sitting shiva. Make a casserole, come over, and just sit with her.