Hadassah, Jewish Women’s Archive and Uprooted Collaborate to Strip Away Taboos Associated with Infertility in the American Jewish Community

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Alix Friedman
Hadassah National Public Relations

“Your Family-Building Story” will use JWA’s mobile app to document the often difficult journey to create a family

NEW YORK, NY: October 21, 2020 — With a new initiative called YOUR FAMILY-BUILDING STORY, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) and Uprooted: A Jewish Communal Response to Fertility Journeys (Uprooted) are joining forces to strip away the taboos that often accompany family  building in the American Jewish community. Offering all individuals,  however they define themselves and their families, the opportunity to  share their stories, the collaboration aims to raise awareness of the  emotional, physical and other challenges people face when dealing with  infertility.

Using Story Aperture, a  mobile app developed by JWA, women, men and nonbinary participants can  record their stories, interview, or be interviewed by, friends and loved  ones. A series of suggested questions will help guide the  conversations. (To download the app and see the complete list of  questions, click here.)

According  to a 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 13 percent of  women of reproductive age, or about 9.5 million women aged 15-49, have  trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy. The numbers are higher  among American Jews, according to the Jewish Fertility Foundation, with  as many as one in six Jewish couples facing infertility (compared to one  in eight for the general population). Jews start families at an older  average age and have a higher rate of certain genetic conditions that  increase the need for fertility treatments. (For more information about  the causes of infertility in the Jewish community, and for facts and  figures about infertility, click here.)

The  often difficult road to parenthood takes a huge toll on those involved.  Within the Jewish community, that toll is often exacerbated by a  powerful sense of shame. Since “family" is an increasingly elastic term,  infertility need not bring with it feelings of embarrassment, failure  and isolation.

The collaboration  among HWZOA, JWA and Uprooted reflects the organizations’ shared  commitment to give voice to family-building challenges Jews and others  face, and to provide the support they need to take charge of their  health and their lives.

Your Family-Building Story complements reConceiving Infertility,  a national information and advocacy campaign HWZOA launched in April  2020. The objective of the campaign is to demystify infertility and the  inability to conceive. Infertility also encompasses pregnancy loss,  adoption, foster parenting, becoming a single parent by choice, LGBTQ+  family-building and blended families. It’s about redefining what it  means to be a family.

As part of the reConceiving Infertility campaign, HWZOA is organizing community programs, hosting training  sessions to help women advocate for insurance changes and empowering  women to speak openly about their infertility journeys and their  pathways to parenthood, or their decision to live child-free. The  initiative considers the feelings of the entire family, including  parents who may never be grandparents and siblings who may never be  aunts or uncles. (To learn more about this broad-ranging initiative,  click here.)

Said Rhoda Smolow,  President, HWZOA: “Our goal is to shed light on infertility, long a  taboo subject in the Jewish community. And while this particular  initiative focuses on that community, the issues we’re raising are  relevant to everyone trying to figure out what kind of family they want  and what ‘family’ means to them. We are thrilled to partner with the  Jewish Women’s Archive and Uprooted on this important project.”

Said Judith Rosenbaum,  Chief Executive Officer of JWA: “Oral history teaches us again and  again that there is such power in telling one’s story and being heard.  We are proud to participate in this important initiative to give voice  to experiences that have too often been silenced and to create space to  explore fundamental questions of family, identity, embodiment and  community.”

Said Dalia Davis,  Founder and President of Uprooted: “Even those whose fertility  challenges are in the past may carry with them emotional trauma and  painful memories decades later. One meaningful method of healing from  the trauma of these experiences is to speak about them. Doing so in a  public setting can be daunting, which makes the opportunity to do so  through Story Aperture invaluable.”

About the Jewish Women’s Archive
The  Jewish Women’s Archive documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their  voices, and inspires them to be agents of change. JWA is a national  organization dedicated to collecting and promoting the extraordinary  stories of Jewish women. JWA explores the past as a framework for  understanding the issues important to women today; inspires young people  with remarkable role models; and uses Jewish women’s stories to  motivate actions toward a more equitable future. Jwa.org is the world’s  largest collection of information on Jewish women, and draws more than  1.6 million visitors a year seeking information, inspiration, community,  and a sense of identity. For more information, visit www.jwa.org.

About Uprooted: A Jewish Communal Response to Fertility Journeys
Uprooted:  A Jewish Response to Fertility Journeys provides support and healing  through a Jewish lens to those on difficult fertility journeys. By  raising awareness within the Jewish community, educating Jewish leaders  and providing direct support to those struggling, Uprooted is shifting  the culture so that the community is more inclusive for those who face  family-building challenges. Uprooted is committed to  pluralistic ideals and has established a responsive, community-wide  approach that provides opportunities for emotional and spiritual healing  for anyone on a fertility journey. By sharing Jewish teachings and  spiritual traditions, creating new rituals and forging connections among  Jews negotiating this difficult road, Uprooted is establishing itself  as a resource and a beacon of support to those struggling to grow their  families. For more information, visit weareuprooted.org/.


Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With nearly 300,000 members, Associates and supporters, HWZOA brings women together to effect change and advocate on such critical issues as ensuring the security of Israel, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health. Through the Hadassah Medical Organization's (HMO) two hospitals in Jerusalem, HWZOA helps support exemplary patient care for over a million people every year and HMO’s world-renowned medical research. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize Nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace.” Additionally, HWZOA supports several Youth Aliyah villages that set at-risk children in Israel on the path to a successful future. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org or follow Hadassah on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.