Rosh Hashanah Morning Ritual By: Rabbi Peter S. Berg
Each year on Rosh Hashanah morning, for at least twenty years, The Temple has participated in a ritual that is a highlight of the year. At the conclusion of seder tekiyat hashofar, one of our rabbi reads the names of all the babies born in the past year. This came into being because people noticed that the only names we read publically were for healing and yartzeit – and we wanted to read names in a joyful manner as well, especially at the New Year.
Five years ago, it occurred to us that reading the names of new babies could also be painful for those in our community struggling with infertility. As such, we decided to use this opportunity to acknowledge the pain of infertility and let our members know that we see them and pray with them. After the recitation of babies born in the previous year, we now recite the following prayer:
As we welcome these beautiful new babies into their homes
and our congregation,
let us also remember that one out of every six Jewish couples – struggles with infertility.
There are, often invisible, members of our community, who are this year, shouldering that burden themselves – including the sadness, depression, and financial stress.
Let us, this year, be cognizant of them – and remember that 1 out of every 6 couples trying to conceive –
is having tremendous difficulty.
Eternal God, let this month – the beginning of the New Year –
be the month of conception for all of those who are struggling. Amen.
Reciting this brief prayer has been life-changing for us. Often, we can hear an audible reaction of gratitude in the congregation. Each year, after the service, numerous individuals approach our clergy to thank us for “seeing them”. Additionally, several couples share with us their fertility challenges. It’s not uncommon to hear “We didn’t think to approach our rabbi, but we are really struggling and could use your help”. This ritual also provides the opportunity to make referrals to the Jewish Fertility Foundation of Atlanta. Certainly, this type of prayer can be adapted to all of our holy days. It is incumbent upon clergy and congregations to open their hearts to countless members, often invisible, who are suffering and struggling with infertility and related challenges.