Welcome to the World, TALLULAH GENE

by Rabbi Lee Friedlander

Dear Friends,

As was announced in last week’s “Shaliyah,” my third grandchild, Tallulah Gene, the daughter of Ruthie Friedlander and Steven Chaikin, came into the world on August 23 at 4:10 A.M.  Her debut was more than four years in the making.  Tallulah, or Lulah to me, was the product of her mother’s egg fertilized by her father’s sperm, and carried by Lucy, the surrogate mom.  The three of them were together in the delivery room of Tower Medical Center in Reading, PA to welcome Tallulah, along with an obstetrician and a team of nurses who were eager to witness the wonder of it all.  An hour later, Lulah’s grandparents and her aunt, took turns to join the chorus of greeters.

It takes two to tango, the saying goes, but Lulah proves that sometimes it takes three to make a baby.  Three or more?  Should we not add the technicians who extracted Ruthie’s eggs, and the geneticists who tested the viability of the embryos, and the doctor who implanted the embryo into Lucy’s womb into the count.  Let’s count, too, the attorneys who represented the three parents, who had to rewrite the contracts after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (!), and who made everything kosher for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   And how about the social workers who prepared the hospital staff to receive the Friedlander, Levitt and Chaikin families, and the young man who checked the installation of the car seat for Lulah’s journey home to New York.

While our Sages considered birth to be a mitsva, those of us who have been privileged to witness it first-hand call it as a miracle.  Our Rabbis so rejoiced even in the possibility of child-birth that they praised the way humans are constructed to reproduce in the third blessing of the seven recited under the bridal canopy.  For our family, surrogacy made the natural miracle of birth all the more wondrous.  When I think of how surrogacy expands the possibility for others, especially for same gender couples, to increase wonder in the world, I rejoice all the more.

I applaud Ruthie and Steven who have not only allowed me, but who have encouraged me to share their path to parenthood with all of you.  Understanding that it takes a village to raise a child, and acknowledging the part that our RSNS community has played in making her who she is today, Ruthie and Steven have chosen our synagogue as the place for Tallulah’s covenantal naming ceremony to be held some time after the High Holidays.  They look forward to expanding Lulah’s circle of life and love.

What better way to anticipate the beginning of the New Year than with a birth!  May the blessing that Tallulah has been to her parents and to their extended families and to the many others who made it possible for her being, extend to include our community and the world.

May 5784 a year of new possibilities and of wonder fulfilled. Warmly,

Rabbi Lee Friedlander