Social Change and the Religious Family: Shatil Convenes Single Mothers

14 April 2016

On April 6, a group of religious single mothers and mothers-to-be met to discuss the challenges, fears and joys of creating families on their own in the religious world. The event was organized by KayamaMoms: Creating Community and Support for Jewish Single Mothers by Choice, an organization that is part of a larger Shatil-led roundtable that addresses changes in the religious family.

The moms and moms-to-be discussed their challenges: Will the community accept us? How will we raise children on our own? Who will sit next to our sons in synagogue? How will our kids answer the question, “where is your Dad?”

“From the moment my child was born, I am far less lonely. It’s not just me with myself. We’re a family,” said one woman.

Another women who is in the process of becoming a single mom said, “I decided to change the dream of first finding a partner and then having kids. Now, I am dreaming of starting a family of my own and in the future, the partner will come.”

As a result, the women present decided to publish an open letter to rabbis and community leaders to raise awareness of the challenges faced by these women. The letter calls on them to acknowledge these women in their community, to be sensitive and attentive to their needs, and to welcome them and their children.

“This gathering presents another milestone in NIF and Shatil’s work to strengthen moderate voices within Orthodoxy – voices that can contain complexity, difference, and a new model of the family. Voices that enable single women to challenge the social order and to choose – despite all the challenges — to add their own link to the chain of the generations of the Jewish people,” said Ronny Shapira Chisdai, coordinator of religious women’s projects at Shatil.