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The Baby Boomer

Rhona Lewis

Dr. Baruch Brooks, recently retired halachic supervisor and embryologist at Shaare Zedek Hospital’s IVF unit, and scientific director of Zir Chemed, is the first address for fertility issues in the Orthodox world. A scientist and Torah scholar, he has merited to use his wisdom in Torah and science to bring the joy of a child’s laugh into the silent lives of hundreds of couples.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

dr brooksMost people sleep through the night once their kids do, but Dr. Baruch Brooks still wakes up for babies — the unborn ones, the ones he helps bring to life.

Dr. Brooks — who sees himself as a shaliach, an extension of the father-mother-G-d triangle needed to create a baby — has spent the last two decades as embryologist and halachic supervisor atShaareZedekHospital’s IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinic. By night he is the scientific director of Zir Chemed, which offers counseling and medical services within a halachic framework to religious couples faced with infertility.

It wasn’t easy to reach the decision to leave his position at Shaare Zedek and take early retirement, but maybe now, at least, he’ll be able to get the sleep he’s been deprived of for years. Dr. Brooks has left his halachically run lab in good hands, and now spends his mornings in kollel. He still counsels couples at night, fusing on his vast knowledge of Torah with that of the complex and often confusing dimension of infertility. “I was longing to get back to serious learning, but knew I still needed to be involved with fertility issues. Bringing babies into the world has become an essential part of my life.”

Here in the unpretentious dining room of his apartment in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood, many couples have sat, cried, and hoped, as he professionally but tenderly led them through the maze of options and treatments, any veneer of English reserve vanishing into warm, fatherly concern. His days in the laboratory might be over, but he’s still the first address when it comes to helping couples become parents.

Couples entering the foreign realm of fertility treatment face a confusing search for the right professionals and most effective procedures, accompanied by a palate of emotions from hope to fear to anxiety. For religious couples, there are additional challenges: which procedures are permitted by Jewish law and which are not? How long should a couple wait before beginning treatment, and where should they go?

Dr. Brooks’s wise, competent, and compassionate counsel is often the first stop on the journey.

“A doctor is obligated to give immediate treatment to the patient,” Dr. Brooks says, discussing his counseling approach. “As a scientist and halachic mentor, I don’t have this obligation, so I’m able to approach the problem differently and look at the issue as a scientific puzzle.” 


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