Fertility Journeys: A Training for Clinicians, Clergy, and Lay Leaders

Fertility Journeys: A training for clinicians, clergy, lay leaders, and Mikveh Guides about fertility in the Jewish community, how to help those who are struggling to build their families, and the resources Mayyim Hayyim and Uprooted have to offer.

This training is based on the workshop series “Holding Hannah’s Hand” created by Uprooted and successfully run in other U.S. communities in 2017/18.

CEUs for Social Workers will be offered

Fee: $54; this program is funded in part by a grant from The Miriam Fund

Date & Location: Monday, April 8, 12:00 – 8:00pm at Mayyim Hayyim, 1838 Washington St., Newton, MA 02466


In addition to this training, join Uprooted and Temple Israel of Boston Sunday, April 7 at 4 pm for TRYmester: Jewish Fertility Journeys Out Loud, a a tapestry of song, dance, and monologue that deliver an up-close look at the struggles people commonly face as they search for meaning while on prolonged family-building journeys. Learn more and buy tickets.

Click here to view excerpts from the book


12:00-12:15 Registration, pick up lunches, packets

12:15-12:30: Welcome

Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director will share introductory remarks including an overview of the statistics of rates of fertility in the Jewish community, the value we as Jews place on childbearing, and why Mayyim Hayyim has chosen to dive deeply into this work in general.

12:30-1:15: Medical ABC’s for Assisted Reproductive Technologies

This session will offer participants the opportunity to learn the “ABCs” of Assisted Reproductive Technologies including statistics, types of procedures, and information on normal reproduction. Participants will learn how to describe what occurs during unassisted biological reproduction, understand the differences between the varieties of assisted reproductive technology procedures and when they are used, and become familiar with patients’ experiences while undergoing ART.

1:15-2:00: Emotional Perspectives on Reproduction

Learn how different reproductive journeys create different implications – and a wide range of emotional responses – from the thought of “something’s wrong with me” to grief and loss as one progresses through the different options in family building. Each part of the journey has different experiences of loss and require differing kinds of emotional support. Understanding the role of gender, culture, and context are essential for those working with individuals struggling with fertility challenges.

2:00-2:15 Break

2:15-3:30: In Their Shoes: Role Plays with Experts

Participants will experience two fertility-related role-plays facilitated by clergy, mental health professionals, and workshop participants, and deepen their understanding of how to approach different scenarios.

3:30-4:30: Stories at the Mikveh: Mayyim Hayyim’s Role with Fertility Journeys

Small groups will rotate through three stations of learning about Mayyim Hayyim’s engagement with those on fertility journeys, the experiences of those who have come to Mayyim Hayyim as part of their journey, and the resources Mayyim Hayyim provides. Experience a tour of Mayyim Hayyim through the lens of a guest and their story.


4:30 – 4:45: Break and Regroup for Professional Cohort Learning

4:45-6:00: Workshops Specific to Professional Cohorts: Clergy, Mental Health Professionals, Lay Leaders, Mikveh Guides

For Clergy: V’aysheveha Eli Le’shekorah (And Eli Thought She was Drunk) — Faith, God, Biblical Narrative, and Spirituality during the Fertility Journey

Explore Jewish texts pertaining to fertility struggles, particularly those that relate to God, the role of clergy, and spiritual challenges. Delve into approaches and techniques for support for those on a fertility journey through the lens of pastoral care. Learn about Mayyim Hayyim’s resources in this area that are elements of a clergy’s tool kit in working with individuals. What is the experience of clergy when they themselves are on a fertility journey?

For Clinicians: The Emotional Side of Fertility                                                 

Mental health professionals will explore grief and loss and learn how to listen to stories of fertility and be knowledgeable about them; understand the nuances of genetic vs. non-genetically-related children; recognize aspects of countertransference that might appear as a result of a clinician’s own possible reproductive history; other do’s and don’ts when working with issues around reproductive health, particularly in the Jewish community. What role can mikveh play in a therapeutic approach?

For Lay Leaders: Inclusion and Support in Our Communities                           

Lay leaders will explore the broad range of people impacted by this issue and how it might manifest itself at various stages of life, learning how to implement programs that support those on fertility journeys within their communities. Participants will learn how to foster supportive and inclusive communities, and become familiar with language to use in order to be sensitive to community members during and beyond their fertility journeys.

For Mikveh Guides: Guiding Sensitively for Those on Fertility Journeys    

Guides will learn about language sensitivities, issues that can be triggering for regular mikveh goers and those seeking comfort/healing, and resources Mayyim Hayyim provides for those on fertility journeys.

6:00-6:45: Dinner and Conversation with an Expert

Each table will have an expert in a particular area for participants to ask questions of and engage in topic-specific discussions.

6:45 -7:30: “FED” Talk: Fertility Experiences Dialogue.

Hear from three individuals in the field as they share their own fertility narratives and reflect on how their personal experiences affected their lives. This is a “TED Talk” style presentation.

7:30 – 8:00: Moving the Boston Community Forward: Envisioning Our Future and Sharing It Out Loud

How to sustain the learning from these workshops with real world next steps and initiatives through Uprooted, Mayyim Hayyim, our communities, organizations, and congregations.


Stacie Baker, MSW, Director, Healing Initiatives at Uprooted
Lisa Berman, Mikveh & Education Director, Mayyim Hayyim
Michelle Black
Carrie Bornstein, Executive Director, Mayyim Hayyim
Dr. Julie Bindeman, reproductive psychologist
Dalia Davis, Co-founder, Uprooted
Rabbi Michael Fel, Temple Emunah
Andie Insoft, LICSW
Dr. Debbie Issokson, perinatal psychologist
Anya Manning, Uprooted Board Treasurer
Cantor Hollis Schachner, Temple Shir Tikva
Becca Shimshak, Co-founder, Uprooted
Jennifer Slifka Vidal, Mayyim Hayyim Board Member


  • SUMMER HEAT ADVISORY: We have new measures in place to combat the high summer temperatures which may affect your immersion. 

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