Congregation Beth Israel offers fertility assistance grants to members – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Eighteen months ago, Lauren Hendeles stood before Congregation Beth Israel and wondered aloud why there wasnt more support from the Jewish community for those experiencing infertility.

Her question inspired Rabbi Stephen Kahn, and the Mishpacha Project was born.

For your rabbi to stand up and say, We hear you, we see you, we understand what youre going through and we support you I think thats incredibly powerful, Hendeles said.

Launched this spring, the Mishpacha Project offers CBI members and their immediate families grants that can be used to cover the cost of fertility treatments ranging from egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization to lab work and medications.

The first round of applications was scheduled to close after three months, but with fertility treatments largely shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project committee extended the deadline for grant applicants. Hendeles hopes that with more time to apply, the project will have the chance to reach more members.

More than simply offering financial assistance, the Mishpacha Project sends the message that members struggling with infertility are not alone, Hendeles said.

That message is so important because its very easy to feel isolated at times when youre struggling to get pregnant or stay pregnant. Hendeles said.

The seeds for the Mishpacha Project were planted in April 2019, when CBI participated in the Infertility Awareness Shabbat, a national program offered by Yesh Tikvah, a California-based organization that strives to raise awareness about infertility in the Jewish community.

That evening in April, Hendeles told congregants about her own infertility journey, about how the stories of Sarah and Chana in the Torah guided her and about how the support of communities and organizations such as Yesh Tikvah gave her strength.

Rabbi Khan had the idea to create a fertility assistance grant to help CBI members achieve their dreams of creating their own mishpacha, their own families, Hendeles said.

Fundraising was kickstarted by one familys $10,000 donation, and CBI raised more than $30,000. The size of the grants that CBI ultimately offers will depend on the applications they receive, Hendeles said. The Mishpacha Project Committee, which includes reproductive endocrinologists and women who experienced their own infertility journeys as well as Kahn himself, will review the applications and determine how to allocate the funds.

In this initial round, were hoping to give several smaller grants so we can spread the love, but it just depends what comes through in the applications, Hendeles said.

The grant is available to CBI members and their immediate family members. When an application is accepted, CBI will pay the grant amount directly to the health care professional who can put it toward the cost of the applicants treatment.

Nearly one out of every eight couples in the U.S. are affected by infertility," Hendeles said. "For many of those, the steep cost of medical treatments alone is a huge barrier to ever starting a family. We want to help give members of our community the opportunity to walk into their doctors office knowing that they have the funds to cover treatment, and theyre one step closer to hopefully making a baby and building their family. JN

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Congregation Beth Israel offers fertility assistance grants to members - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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