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Why Am I Reminded of Infertility in a New Year Prayer Book?

a blog by Alec, September 29, 2011

To read more Alec, The Infertility Guy blogs, CLICK HERE.

Happy New Year everyone, or Shana Tova if you prefer. September 29 is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I am Jewish, born and raised. JK is Taiwanese. The strange but true thing about our multi-cultural family is that JK felt the pressure of infertility equally from both sides.

Can you imagine it folks? Asian and Jewish? Enough to make anyone wish for a little peace.

The story of Hannah is told on Rosh Hashanah. Hannah was infertile — barren as they call it in the Bible. She prayed for a son and promised that son to God’s worship. Samuel did indeed arrive and Hannah made good on her promise, giving up Samuel when he was 2 years old. He became a prophet and crowned the first two kings of Israel.

But what does that make Hannah? A receptacle? A sacrificial lamb? It doesn’t appear to make her out to be a supermom.

Hannah appears to me to be an infertile woman who prayed for a little luck and got it. A great many infertile women would gladly trade spots with her… except for that part where she gives her son up and is celebrated for it.

Is it possible that Judaism celebrates Hannah because she is the definitive mother? A “bear-the-child-and-get-out-of-the-way” sort of mother?

That thought has occurred to me. There are parts of Judaism — parts that I disagree with — that believe a woman should be in the home, making babies and caring for them. Are these women seen as fully human, or as a baby factory, there to make certain that the Jewish people survive and thrive?

What happens if these same women find they are infertile? Does their purpose for living vanish?

An article by Dr. Miryam Wahrman, “Assisted Reproduction and Judaism,” provides us with a rationale:

    Infertility was not only a painful and tragic experience for the Matriarchs. It continues to afflict many Jewish couples. The biblical notion of infertility was that it was due to the female.

I’ve observed that those attitudes still exist in some quarters. Whatever the cause of infertility, the woman will still be blamed.

Infertility is hard enough to survive without these extra pressures.

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