By Yochanan Gordon
The Bonei Olam Organization has emerged as a formidable force in helping couples struggling with the ills of infertility, providing financial support, emotional support, and medical advice from a team of leading experts in this field, walking each couple through the sometimes complex process towards parenthood. The burdensome cost of fertility treatments amounts to millions of dollars yearly paid by Bonei Olam. To date they are present in five countries with 18 chapters, responsible for aiding in the births of over 6,500 children worldwide.
Rabbi Schlomo Bochner, founder and director of Bonei Olam, had not been blessed with children, so he and his wife, Chanie, brought their savings to a fertility doctor. The doctor informed them they could not have children. At that difficult point, he and his wife decided to give the money they had saved to a couple in the waiting room. After this, other couples joined them in this holy endeavor and Bonei Olam was born 21 years ago.
The Bonei Olam event on Fulton Street in Lawrence has become a tradition around this time of year. The day after Tishah B’Av has been a popular calendar date for organizational events in this as well as many other communities. After three weeks of a diminishment in outward expressions of joy, and nine days without meat during the week, people are ready for some live music and a little pulled brisket, other meaty delicacies, and an assortment of spirits to imbibe.
The funds generated from the Bonei Olam Five Towns event are allocated towards Five Towns couples in need of their services. While the event was produced by the Lakewood chapter of the Bonei Olam organization, it is for all intents and purposes a local charity event.
Throngs of Five Towns residents showed for this year’s event, billed as the Fulton Street Western Rodeo, Smokin’ Style Western BBQ, and Lavish Grill Bar. The event was graciously hosted by Dani and Tamar Allen, Berish and Hannah Fuchs, Dovid and Simone Helfgott, Motty and Hadassah Jacobowitz, Gitty Lowinger, Abba and Rebecca Novak, Dovi and Diana Safier, and Steve and Elisheva Schlam. The aesthetics, which included bales of hay strewn around and other Western-reminiscent props to capture the rodeo feeling, were designed by Gitty Lowinger. Entertainment was provided by Pumpedisa, famous for their performances in Dubai and at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis.
The Seasons and RMA NY-sponsored event had a delightful array of food stations, including a smoked-meat station by Judd’s Memphis Kitchen, a smoked-popcorn station sponsored by Popinsanity, a smoked-nuts station sponsored by Oh! Nuts, a chocolate fountain, a doughnut bar by The Party Stem, a beer station by Lost Tribes Beverages, and wine-tasting by Herzog Wine Cellars.
It seems to me that there is a deeper connection at play between the work of Bonei Olam and this specific time period in which the event is traditionally held. While many of our observances throughout the 25 hours of Tishah B’Av and its preceding days of mourning are to internalize the message that life without the Beis HaMikdash, exiled from our national homeland, is not how life was meant to be lived, its focus is specifically geared towards heralding the future redemption and the building of the third Beis HaMikdash as well as the return of our national pride.
Chazal intimate this when they write, “Anyone who mourns upon Yerushalayim merits and sees its [joy] consolation.” It seemingly would have been grammatically correct to say, “Anyone who mourns upon Yerushalayim will merit to see its consolation,” in the future tense. However, it is written the way it is because commiserating is essentially an expression of its consolation and rebuilding.
During Minchah on Tishah B’Av, we insert a special prayer of consolation upon Yerushalayim. Of all the analogies that our rabbis could have employed to describe Yerushalayim in its exilic state, they specifically chose that of a barren woman, as it states in part, “Mourning without her children, destroyed from within her environs, and shamed of her honor and desolate with no place to dwell. She sits with her head bowed in shame as a barren woman who is unable to give birthÂ .Â .Â .” Essentially, this prayer says that all the while the Jews are dispersed throughout the world and not together in their homeland, Yerushalayim mourns all alone as a barren woman mourning without her children at her side. It seems that if we could come to terms with the loneliness of Jerusalem, we could begin to understand the pain of a new couple who experiences complications conceiving.
No matter how common a problem it is–and they say that one in six women endure fertility complications–being unable to have children is not the natural state of things. If barrenness is akin to exile, then solving the travails of couples who have a hard time conceiving is essentially heralding their personal redemption. Chazal state that Gâ€‘d extracted the Jews from Egypt like a fetus is separated from the womb. Perhaps even more poignant and to the point of Tishah B’Av and the days afterward is the saying of Chazal that “Mashiach will not come until all souls have left their place above for this world.”
If each individual soul is akin to an entire nation, and the birth of all souls is inextricably tied to the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash, helping Bonei Olam solve the ills of infertility is in essence commiserating over the loneliness of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash and an involvement in its rededication. May we merit a time soon when the services of Bonei Olam are no longer needed, when we will be reunited in Yerushalayim and with the Beis HaMikdash.
Thanks to those who attended, we are on our way to meeting that goal, and their support will have a dramatic impact on the lives of local couples. For more information about Bonei Olam, please visit www.boneiolam.org.