Early in the Exodus story Pharoah’s dApple with shallow DOFecreed hard labor for the Children of Israel and that their baby girls may live but their baby boys may not. Despite this harsh reality, they continued to have children. The Midrash teaches that this is connected to apples. The women would take their husbands to the fields to entice them. They would conceive and then return to the fields to give birth and prevent the Egyptians from killing their sons. This all happened under apple trees as it says in Song of Songs 8.5: “under the apple tree I roused you; it was there your mother conceived you, there she who bore you conceived you.”

During enslavement in Egypt, one of the ways the Children of Israel expressed their spiritual freedom was by conceiving their future. Literally. Their hope was that the next generation would serve God and not Pharoah.

Some among us, however, are not free to conceive their future. Their hopes and dreams are enslaved by fertility challenges. Infertility can feel like a form of bondage: bodies that feel broken or unable to perform as we wish, decisions that seem impossible at times to navigate, and circumstances that seem out of our control.

On Passover we eat charoset to symbolize the clay our ancestors used to hold together the bricks they were making. The charoset also represents the sweetness of their redemption to serve God. By adding apples to our charoset, we invoke these symbols as well as the connection to fertility. We connect our past, present and future with the Song of Songs, the apple trees, intimacy, conception, birth and redemption.

Meditation for making and eating charoset with apples for those experiencing fertility challenges:

God of our ancestors, our souls are afflicted.

While we may be free in most ways, our dreams of fertility seem out of reach.

With the sweetness of these apples, comes the bitter taste of disappointment and loss.

Under the apple tree – shade us with your blessings.

Under the apple tree – may we find comfort with each other.

Under the apple tree – help us conceive a hopeful future.

Creator and Redeemer of all, let this charoset strengthen our souls.

May the sweetness of its apples linger with us.

Grant us clarity and hope along the way

to redemption.

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Can you tell which one is "real" and which is "synthetic"?

Can you tell which one is “real” and which is “synthetic”?

Recently Dolce & Gabbana made some comments that were less than kind to the ears of anyone who has struggled to have a child. Make that anyone who thought about parenting, appreciates parenting, is a parent, has a parent. Add in anyone who cares about having babies or appreciates children. Make that just anyone.

Dolce said, “I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”

A New York Times article shared some of the comments,  reactions, and eerie silence that ensued.  As an organization founded to support those who want to be parents and can benefit from IVF, Hasidah is very clear about who we serve, why and for what greater good. Here are some of the problems with D&G’s comments:

1) Unenlightened – Do they know that sometimes IVF is due to chemotherapy, genetic diseases, or other instances when the “world as it should be” has shown itself to be cruel and unforgiving?

2) Highly insensitive – Many of the couples who undergo IVF have experienced numerous losses, financial strain, and deep emotional pain in their paths to become parents. This is not political incorrectness. This delegitimizes their yearning for parenthood, their authenticity as parents, and the trials they went through to bring a real living soul into this world. And on that note…

3) Even more highly insensitive – It is extreme thoughtlessness and its own form of cruelty to suggest that these children are “less than” in any way. Those parents who have been through IVF would have a case to argue quite the opposite.  Would they look at an 8 year old boy along with his desperately grateful parents and tell him he was synthetic? That he is somehow less a child of God than any other?

To backtrack and say this is their opinion and it’s fine for others to feel differently does not undo their characterization. It is not an apology in anyway and cannot repair the insult to the parents and the children they offended.

The upshot? We just received our first contribution to help fund couples in need of IVF “in honour of Dolce & Gabbana.” Feel free to join.


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