Rosh HaShanah Study Session: In Hannah’s Circle: Reflections on Infertility and Fertility
In Hannah’s Circle: Reflections on Infertility and Fertility
with Alex Johnston, Dr. Heather Shapiro, and Devon Spier
Moderated by Sharoni Sibony
On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the birthday of the world with the words, “Hayom Harat Olam” – today the infinite is born. We also read the biblical story of Hannah, who is grief-stricken by infertility. What worlds wait to be born in us? How can our community better support people of all genders through the journey of raising the next generation? If we can’t, or choose not to become parents, what alternative Jewish futures can we imagine beyond the Jewish procreation narrative? How else can we be fruitful? This session will support all who are on a fertility journey and those who are child-free by making space for reflections and questions of all kinds.
HBT Members: for the zoom link to this study session, please go to holyblossom.org/hhd
Alex Johnston’s first book, Inconceivable: My Life-Altering, Eye-Opening Journey from Infertility
to Motherhood, was published by Sutherland House in May 2021. Alex is the CEO and one of the founders of 360 Concussion Care, an integrated network of concussion clinics offering physician-led, multi-disciplinary care and operating as a learning health system to develop and share world-leading concussion research and best practices. Between 2012-2016 she ran the Canadian office of Catalyst Inc. a global non-profit advocating for the advancement of women in business, where she worked closely with some of the most influential CEOs and business leaders in Canada on strategies to accelerate progress for women. She has a deep and broad policy background having served as a senior policy advisor in the Ontario government for justice, social and women’s issues and later executive director managing the policy team for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty between 2003-2011. She is a director on corporate and non-profit boards, including the board of Desjardins General Insurance Group, the co-chair of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and the board of Bishop’s College School. She grew up in Montreal and now lives in Toronto where she and her husband are raising their
three young children.
Heather Shapiro is a fertility specialist at Mount Sinai Fertility in Toronto and an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto. She is a graduate of McMaster University Faculty of Medicine and a graduate of the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at U of T. She has spent many years helping people start a family and teaching the next generation of women’s health providers. She is the former Vice-Chair of Education in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the past president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and current member of their Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee. Her research interests include improving access to fertility care and understanding fertility decision-making. Heather and her family have been members at Holy Blossom since 1992. Heather has served as the Holy Blossom liaison for our ShinShinim program and as a board member. Her children all attended Leo Baeck Day School.
Devon Spier is an author, rabbinical student and digital theologian, who weaves and teaches others to weave their own theology through poems, prose and digital images. She currently serves as the 2021 Liturgist-in-Residence for the National Havurah Committee and resources Jewish movements, networks and denominations to explore the intersections of hope and hopelessness, trauma and recovery, humour and doubt as well as loneliness and safe-keeping. Utilizing a palette of Torah, personalized psalms and trauma-informed somatic body practice, Devon’s work has been consulted and published by the London School for Jewish Studies, the Reconstructing Judaism movement, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Liberal Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women. An advocate for encounter across difference in the global religious community, she has been recognized by the Ontario Government as a recipient of the “Leading Women, Building Communities” award. Most recently, Devon is the author of the bestselling book of poetry: “Whatever it is, gently: Quiet Meditations for the Noise of the Pandemic” (2020).