In 2020, I did something that terrified me. I went onto Instagram and poured out of me 5 years of research into the topic of Pregnancy Loss in Judaism. This video has now been watched by thousands of people across the world and although I wish it would not be relevant to anyone else but me, unfortunately, the request to collate resources specifically on this topic keep coming in.
So you may have found this page because you or someone you know has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss and are looking for specific information/inspiration tailored to the UK Orthodox Jewish Community.
I include below the few resources I created, as well as the top three booklets/books I have found along my journey.
Firstly, even if you have not been touched personally by this tragic event, thank you all for being a part of this conversation! It is not talked about enough.
There are so many wonderful organisations that were a massive part of our life when our eldest was stillborn at 37 weeks in 2015, mainly SANDS Charity for Stillbirth and Tommys Charity focused on Miscarriage.
In terms of resources in the UK Jewish Community:
- A Time sends a support box
- Chana provides therapy
- Nechama Partners gives a buddy
- United Synagogue Pregnancy Loss Group also gives a buddy
Our Sages say that at 120 years old, when you head to Heaven, your baby will be part of the entourage cheering you on and welcoming you. Because they are your child forever!
- I attach the beautifully written article by Rabbi Weiner as to the Halochos and Jewish Approach for Pregnancy Loss – https://rabbiweiner.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Guidance-on-the-Loss-of-a-Baby-of-Fetus-Hakira.pdf
- Rabbi Yamin Levy’s book of Confronting the Loss of a Baby: A Personal and Jewish Perspective is an excellent book
- A TIME in America published the following booklet filled with different perspectives from a range of writers:
United Synagogue have put together a useful booklet on the more practical side; please note that every community follows different customs so you will need to reach out to a trusted Rabbi for guidance specific to your family – Link. For example, parents may be told they can’t hold their baby or take photos but although core Halocho encourages the baby to be as detached from this world as possible (so it remains pure and uncontaminated with earth), anything that will help the parents suitably grieve is recommended.
Another example is that parents are often discouraged from attending the burial however this is custom rather than Halochoh. Post 21 weeks pregnant, when the baby requires an Orthodox Burial (and if a boy then he is circumcised), unless you are already paying burial fees to an organisation, you can choose any Orthodox Burial Society. Please do your research.
My Instagram Live
My Huffington Post Articles
- Can I can myself a Mother? (2016) – https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amp/entry/stillbirth-parenting_b_11307280/
- The differences and similarities between my experiences of Miscarriage and Stillbirth (2018) – https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/is-stillbirth-just-a-longer-miscarriage-miscarriage_uk_5b674384e4b08c2f0a5e10b6?ncid=other_homepage_tiwdkz83gze&utm_campaign=mw_entry_recirc
My Podcast on this topic
I have been blessed that with the incredible support of family, friends and mentors, and together with my husband, we have been able to weave our eldest daughter’s short time on this earth into the tapestry we call life.
I could fill a book of my thoughts but I will leave you with a short taste for now. I personally found the hardest part of my eldest’s death was my loss of innocence (and naivety?) that life is meant to work out a certain way. Aka pregnancy equals baby to bring up. But not always. Process, love and cry ….. one day you will see how far you have come and how you have integrated your baby’s short life into your story.
I found the following article filled with quotes and thoughts helpful: “Embrace the new, changed you and let go of any expectation of getting over it” Aisha Oravec. “And you will be so proud of yourself! And your baby will be so proud of you. “
“Some people will support you unconditionally, but some will never understand why you can’t just get over it and be the person you used to be.” Michele Caruso.
This helped me but I know it wasn’t true for many others – “It may take you a long time to not feel evil and sketchy around other pregnant women. Don’t force that, it will come easier when it truly matters” Rebecca Rood.
I will end with my favourite quote: “Your dead baby will teach you everyday how to live, and how to appreciate life. That is their gift to you.” Madyson Hall.
If you are interested to read more about how my eldest daughter’s death encouraged me to pick up my paintbrush again, then head to the Blog to read ‘Your Baby will teach you how to live’.