According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth, 1 in 8 couples struggle getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. As a woman ages, her chance of natural pregnancy drops from around 25% at age 25 to less than 5% at age 40. One Arizona program is insisting: don’t struggle alone.
Launched in 2019, the Mishpacha Project is an Arizona grant program available to help Jewish couples or individuals get pregnant. The goal is to lower the financial stress that comes with infertility and alleviate much of the monetary challenges. The name is fitting; mishpacha means “family” in Hebrew.
“For four years, I struggled to have children with my husband. We went through IVF to have our twins via gestational carrier,” said Cassie Weisz-Marin, program board member. “We had no clue there were programs out there that provided financial assistance; that was the hardest part for us. Therefore, being part of the Mishpacha Project is close to my heart.”
Weisz-Marin, along with several local board members, runs the program. They include Rabbi Stephen Kahn, senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel; Debbie Yunker Kail, director of Hillel Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University; Jesse Hade, MD, FACOG, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and OBGYN; and Lauren Hendeles, a long-time member of Congregation Beth Israel. In fact, Hendeles and her husband, Zev, conceived two boys via assisted reproductive technology treatments.
“I truly appreciate that Congregation Beth Israel has stepped up to support people who are trying to build their families. Infertility is a unique and deeply personal challenge,” said Yunker Kail. “Support from the community helps both with the (very high!) cost as well as the emotional roller coaster that we all experience along the journey.”
The Mishpacha Project grant can be used to cover any expenses associated with assisted reproduction, such as egg retrieval, IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), PGT-A (genetic testing), FDA testing, ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), monitoring, lab work and medications. Preference is given to those who do not have medical insurance coverage for the various fertility treatments or medicines.
“Any member of the Arizona Jewish community will be considered for grants as long as at least one partner is Jewish and there is a commitment to having a Jewish home,” said Weisz-Marin.
Additional qualifications include, but are not limited to:
• Female applicants must be between 21-45 years of age. Male applicants must be between 21-50 years of age.
• The grant may be used toward fertility treatments at any fertility clinic that is a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).
• Applicants must possess the means to offer continued child support (at least one.
partner must maintain employment).
• Recipients must begin treatment within 12 months of receiving a grant.
• Applicants must have basic health insurance for mother and baby with sufficient prenatal coverage.
• Applicants and co-applicants must have a combined (if applicable) adjusted gross income under $150,000.
Grants are available to same-sex couples, heterosexual couples and singles who cannot afford fertility treatments, surrogacy or adoption.
In addition, they are always looking to improve and expand their program. The board is discussing things like adoption and surrogacy/gestational carriers, but nothing has been set in stone.
“Congregation Beth Israel is committed to the core Jewish value of building mishpacha, with recognition of those families who are struggling with infertility,” said Rabbi Kahn. ”Our mission is to help members achieve their dream of creating a mishpacha through these life-changing grants.” JN
For more information, visit cbiaz.org/mishpacha-project-fertility-assistance-grants/.
Nadine Bubeck is an author and freelance writer living in Scottsdale.