Sisterhood Blog

A Heckscher for Fertility Clinics?

By Gabrielle Birkner

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For many couples, keeping the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” doesn’t come easy.

The good news is that, today, those who have trouble becoming pregnant have options that Abraham and Sarah (the Bible’s most famous reproductively challenged couple) never did; the bad news is that halacha or Jewish law — with its set of demands about how a child is to be conceived, and how religious lineage and priestly status is to be passed from generation to generation — can complicate matters of employing reproductive technology.

Those complications are the raisons d’être of the Jerusalem-based Puah Institute. The organization counsels infertile couples, and sends supervisors to fertility clinics around the world to ensure that the business of making babies is done within the confines of Jewish law. The work of the Institute, named for a heroic midwife in the Book of Exodus, is detailed in this enlightening article, published Sunday in Canada’s National Post, and its companion podcast.

As a Puah supervisor told the National Post: “Just like rabbis supervise the production of Kosher food, we supervise the fertility process. It’s not that we don’t trust the labs, but this is the only way this process is Halachically sound.”

Joel Katz Tue. May 26, 2009

Today there was an article describing the Gerrer Rebbe's meeting with the Puah Institute.

"The Rebbe spoke of how he feels that the convenience of modern life expresses itself with people looking for easy and immediate solutions. He said that there are couples feeling pressured about having children and running to have fertility treatments too soon.

The Rebbe said that while each situation should be brought to a Rav familiar with both the topic and the couple, as a rule couples should not worry about fertility challenges during their first year of marriage."

Religion and State in Israel

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