Australian Jewish Fertility Network to launch in Melbourne

While many people struggling with their fertility feel alone, they are not – as 1 in 6 Australian couples experience infertility.

The fertility journey can be difficult. Some are fortunate to become pregnant right away and carry to term; for others it can take years, if it happens at all. Having personally suffered miscarriages and undergone cycles of IVF treatments, I am deeply aware of the pain that is often carried silently. It is a pain of deep yearning and grief, but can also be physical from the side effects of fertility treatments and procedures. In my experience, it was only on sharing my fertility struggles, that others opened up to me about their own, which until then they had kept quiet.

While many people struggling with their fertility feel alone, they are not – as 1 in 6 Australian couples experience infertility. The Australian Jewish Fertility Network (AJFN) is trying to remove the silence and stigma around infertility by having its annual Infertility Awareness Shabbat from March 15-16. This Shabbat, in collaboration with synagogues, schools and community organisations, AJFN has helped organise speakers and activities to encourage open and honest conversations about infertility to help foster a supportive environment for those going through this journey. By sharing experiences, people may find comfort in feeling that they are not alone, and find empathy from the community.

For the past 17 years the AJFN has been supporting Jewish Australians on their fertility journeys. The AJFN is a Jewish not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing financial, emotional and spiritual support to individuals and families navigating the complexities of fertility challenges. Its support includes a team of peer support companions, delivery of Shabbat meals, care packs, means-tested funding towards fertility treatments and free community educational events. While AJFN was based in Sydney, it has now also opened up in Melbourne. To mark its Melbourne launch on April 3, AJFN is hosting an event “It’s more than a life, it’s a lifetime” which will feature Dr Daniel Lantsberg from Melbourne IVF in conversation with AJFN chair Kerry Gonski. It will also include a viewing of One in Six, a world-first AJFN documentary about Janine and Shimon Davidowitz’s raw, emotional IVF journey.

AJFN CEO Justine Saidman told The AJN, “AJFN is thrilled to launch this inaugural event as a cornerstone in our commitment to supporting individuals and families facing fertility challenges within the Jewish community in Melbourne. ‘It’s more than a life, it’s a lifetime’ is not just an event; it’s a call to action. Now, more than ever, is the light of new Jewish life important in this world.”

By Sharyn Kolieb Australian Jewish News March 14, 2024