November – Infertility, Surrogacy and Adoption



And Sarai said to Abram: “Look, the LORD has kept me from bearing. Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her”

There is no dispute that matters of reproduction, infertility, adoption, and surrogacy are now part of our day-to-day conversation – certainly something we could not say a generation or two ago. People spoke of infertility in whispers – if at all – as if it were a reflection of inadequacy or worse, a source of shame. Now we know so much more about the medical issues that surround infertility and how modern drugs and medical procedures remedy some reproductive maladies. But other options – adoption and surrogacy – have a long tradition going back to antiquity. Look no further than the Bible, in Genesis, to see examples of both. What better way to examine the anguish of infertility and complexity of surrogacy than in the story of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar?

In this month’s Mishpachah material we will look at these issues through the lens of literature. Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner, a professor of Jewish literature at JTS, has created a study session focusing on surrogacy in the story of Sarah and Hagar.

Jennifer Gilmore’s contemporary novel, The Mothers, our 2013 Orpah Book Selection, provides a sometimes humorous, but more often heartrending, story about one couple’s harrowing endeavor to adopt a baby.

You might also find interesting the short collection of rabbinic sources and prayers about fertility.

This material, which can be used and studied by individuals or in a group, provides tremendous opportunity for reflection and discussion.