Bonei Olam of Greater Washington’s inaugural event, titled Beyond Imagination, held Feb. 24 at the Kemp Mill Synagogue (KMS) in Silver Spring, Maryland, was a bigger success than the organizers imagined it could be. Since its founding in 1999, Bonei Olam's mission is to provide whatever means or resources are necessary to help childless Jewish couples achieve the dream of parenthood. Their myriad programs cover every step of the process including financial assistance, work up, medication, high-risk pregnancy, pre-implantation, genetic diagnosis, pre- and post-cancer fertility, education, awareness, and adoption assistance, according to the organization’s website. Although Bonei Olam, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, has distributed over $100 million, and is responsible for over 5,000 babies being born, the organization has not had a local presence.
“For a first event, the outpouring of donations and RSVPs from our community was much larger than we expected,” said Estee Silver, co-chair of the event. “We had to quickly change to a larger venue, and found that so many of the Jewish businesses were quick to donate for this cause.”
KMS’s Rabbi Brahm Weinberg gave the opening remarks; coincidentally, his wife gave birth just three days after the event — both Rabbi and Mrs. Weinberg were on the committee and attended the program. (On the Shabbat following the event, Weinberg shared with his congregation about the experience of his miracle alongside the Bonei Olam event and the greatness of this miracle.)
Dr. Michael Levy, co-founder of Shady Grove Fertility and the event’s featured speaker, spoke about struggles with infertility and the medical science behind treatments. Levy shared that all the work he does makes him just a small part in a greater picture of miracles run by G-d.A woman who received help from Bonei Olam in Baltimore told of her personal, heart-wrenching story and then the happy ending of the birth of her son.
Additionally, a video message from Bonei Olam’s founder Rabbi Shlomo Bochner was shown. Rabbi Bochner talked about his personal experience of being unable to have children for over 20 years, and how he created this organization in multiple countries across five continents in order to help others struggling with the same heartbreaking problem. By the end of the program, said Silver, there was not a dry eye in the house. “Anyone there felt the energy and emotion in the room as each speaker shared another perspective that touched each person in a different way,” she said.
Overall, Beyond Imagination garnered “tremendous communal support,” said co-chair Chaim Lazarus. “Multiple rabbanim showed up ... We had a great cross-section of our community.” Lazarus shared that they have raised thousands of dollars for this cause and that, while the financial aspect is important, this event also aimed to “raise awareness and let people know we have a new resource for local couples.”
Now that funds have been raised for the Greater Washington area, couples who are struggling with infertility can reach out to Bonei Olam. Lazarus and Silver are serving as local community liaisons to help facilitate as needed.
“At the end of the day, helping make this event and have an organization like Bonei Olam support a couple with the challenge of infertility is priceless. The stress of infertility they say for some couples is as intense as a cancer diagnosis,” Silver said. “No couple should ever feel they are going through that challenge alone, and now there is an organization on the map for all couples in the Greater Washington area.”
For more information, contact: https://www.boneiolam.org/services.
By Kami Troy
Kami Troy is the senior editor of Kol HaBirah.