| LifeTakes |

Hope is Born

One of the women listening in on the call started laughing, in a laugh reminiscent of Sarah Imeinu’s. She knew there was no way for her to carry a child

 Brany Rosen as told to Riki Goldstein

Every child born is a miracle,

but one baby, born to a woman who had no hope at all, proves the power of a gadol’s brachah.

By now, 30 years after its establishment, ATIME is very big, but I’m still involved in all our member services. There is one group, especially, with whom I’ve maintained a personal connection: the girls with serious fertility issues who know that they cannot have children.

In 2019, I went along with my husband to the Torah Umesorah Presidents Conference, happy for the chance to get a break and spend Shabbos with him in Florida.

While we would be away, we were also hosting a group of “my girls” for a shabbaton. I left them catered Shabbos meals and told them to use my credit card to order whatever they wanted from a local café for Melaveh Malkah.

Motzaei Shabbos, my husband and I had just sat ourselves in the furthest corner of the dining room for Melaveh Malkah when one of the girls called me. “The credit card isn’t working,” she told me.

“Maybe I wrote the number down wrong, one minute,” I said, looking through my wallet. Suddenly, I gasped. None other than the rosh yeshivah, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, was making his way across the room, heading directly for our corner. “You’ll never guess who is just arriving to sit at our table!” I whispered into the phone excitedly. “It’s Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky.”

The woman’s voice changed. “Brany, could you get us a brachah?” she asked plaintively.

I turned to my husband and asked him to get a brachah from the Rosh Yeshivah, “for women who, b’derech hateva, cannot have children.”

The Rosh Yeshivah’s response was instant. “HaKadosh Baruch Hu can change the teva,” he said simply.

One of the women listening in on the call started laughing, in a laugh reminiscent of Sarah Imeinu’s. She knew there was no way for her to carry a child — so how could she have children?

But then I heard another woman burst out, “He is a gadol, a rosh yeshivah! Just say Amen.”

I gave the caller the correct credit card number, left it at that, and hung up the phone.

A couple of days after we were back home, I went into the ATIME offices in Brooklyn, where I met our director of medical affairs, Rabbi Mordechai Koenig. He had news for me. “A uterine transplant has been attempted at Cleveland Clinic!”

I was in shock. Uterine transplants had previously only been tried in Sweden. They were prohibitively expensive and required an expert doctor and a dedicated medical establishment to devote themselves to research in a very specific field. Rabbi Koenig had met one such expert, Dr. Tomaso Falcone, at a medical conference two years before, but although Dr. Falcone had dabbled in this surgery in Denmark, he hadn’t been optimistic. “It will never come to America,” he pronounced. But now it had. And the Cleveland Clinic had celebrated the birth of a baby boy.

We consulted dayanim and rabbanim who ruled that a uterine transplant is halachically permissible. History was in the making. We decided to fly Dr. Falcone to the US so we could hear about the breakthrough firsthand. On November 13, 2019, he presented the procedure to women and their parents at an ATIME event in Manhattan. Two years after asserting that it would never be done in the United States, Dr. Falcone asked Rabbi Koenig to send him candidates for the procedure. And at this initial stage, as centers across the United States would carry out studies, it would even be free.

I cried while driving from Manhattan to Lakewood. The Rosh Yeshivah’s words were being fulfilled.

We recommended appropriate candidates, then watched and waited. So many things had to be successful in order for a transplant patient to carry a healthy baby. In Nissan, the month of nissim, the first woman was zocheh to the fulfillment of Rav Shmuel’s brachah.

For me, this miracle is like a person blind from birth being able to see. It has changed the lives and the shidduch prospects of the girls in my group. But what I perhaps find most remarkable is Rav Shmuel’s reaction to the news of this great neis: He was neither surprised nor fazed.

Every baby is a miracle, and this baby proves that.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 893)

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