Priya provides funding and focus for infertility issues
By Deb Silverthorn
Priya, be fruitful and multiply, is one of the first commandments in the Torah. The Priya Fund, established in Dallas in 2009, is a most significant way the Dallas Jewish community creates awareness of infertility issues, and supports costs for adoption, medical treatment, or surrogacy.
Now under the ever-widening umbrella of Jewish Family Service of Dallas, the Priya Fund will continue helping Jewish families.
“Over the years, JFS has brought expertise and services specific to the needs of the Jewish community that have both a deep impact in the lives of individuals and families, and those in line with our founding Jewish values as an organization,” said Cathy Barker, JFS CEO. “The Priya Fund, absolutely, is one of those services.”
Established as a fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, the Priya Fund has made 21 grants with close to $80,000 dispensed for at least 13 babies, including two sets of twins, allowing families to kvell.
The Priya Fund was established by Annie and Rabbi David Glickman (formerly of Dallas’ Congregation Shearith Israel) after their own struggle with secondary infertility. While their son Gavi, now 18 and a rising senior, was a toddler, the Glickmans hoped to expand their family. In the limelight of community, it was difficult managing the personal issue, while embracing their very extended “family.”
“We wanted to help people financially, even with a modest amount, and also raise awareness about the issues of infertility, to clear the stigma that often comes with it,” Annie Glickman said. “The silent suffering is so hard. I’m confident that the right pieces are coming together, with the fund moving to JFS, where it will be nurtured from every angle.”
Sari and Rabbi Adam Raskin (formerly of Congregation Shearith Israel and Beth Torah) offered a gift to the Glickmans to help in what they knew was an expensive prospect. After Ellie, now 13, and Daniela, now 10, were born, the Glickmans established the Dallas Priya Fund, grateful for the growth of their family.
“When Daniela was born, we requested that instead of gifts people share to the Priya Fund,” Annie Glickman said. “Since then, people have given in the spirit of weddings or anniversaries, of birthdays and births. The goal was to support all who need it in some way.”
In 2012, the Glickmans moved to Overland Park, Kansas, where David Glickman is the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom. Annie Glickman is director of school services for The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and of Priya: Growing Jewish Families in Kansas City. Priya, established there four years ago with more than $100,000 raised, has supported nearly two dozen families with 11 babies born.
Here, the Priya Fund’s transition from the DJCF to JFS will allow the organization’s complete menu of mental health and social services to support parents in their effort to grow Jewish families. In addition, JFS will be able to raise money for Priya, increasing the amount available to couples.
“Dallas Jewish Community Foundation manages funds, hundreds of them, but we don’t raise the dollars,” said DJCF’s Director of Philanthropic Advancement Mona Allen. “From start to finish, JFS will best serve couples through the processes and, while it will be a void to us, we’re always here for guidance.”
The Priya Fund is coordinated by Caryn Peiser, the mother of Elisheva and Rachel. Peiser’s spirit and soul roars with passion to help others create and build their own families.
“At JFS, everyone from the professional leadership to the part-time volunteers is part of a team, and working together on Priya is going to be an incredible effort,” Peiser said. “The mix of marketing and business development, combined with a need for care and delicate support, is the perfect place for me and I’m very excited.”
The wife of Gary and daughter of Estrella and Ruben Bengio, Peiser attended Akiba and Yavneh academies. The Dallas Jewish community is part of her backbone. She studied at Sharfman’s Seminary Bnot Torah in Israel and earned her bachelor’s degree in child learning and development, with a minor in business administration, from University of Texas-Dallas, just days before the birth of her second daughter.
“As a parent herself and by growing up and being an active member of the Dallas Jewish community, Caryn is a great advocate for the need for this funding by others,” Barker said. “She personally understands the desire to have a child and raise them in the Jewish faith.”
Jewish couples looking for support should contact Peiser to determine eligibility and complete an application. An advisory committee, of medical and Jewish community lay leaders, meets to review each application — the couples remain anonymous — then designates allocation of any funds.
Couples are required to provide a copy of a future invoice (e.g., in vitro, surrogacy, adoption) within 180 days to receive the funds. Funds will ultimately be distributed from the rabbi’s discretionary fund with whom the couple shares a relationship.
“We are eternally grateful for Priya’s support as we faced fertility challenges,” said Monique Roy Chuney, referred to the Priya Fund by a family friend. Chuney and her husband Ken, members of Congregation Anshai Torah, welcomed baby Max on May 24, 2018. “We are blessed with a special and amazing gift. Priya is a wonderful organization, and we are truly thankful.”
The amount that Priya Fund can grant has decreased over the years as the number of requests received increase. Grants are only for future treatments and, while funds are not provided to meet increasing needs per application review cycle, couples are eligible to re-apply and receive additional assistance.
“Beyond the financial burden, which is great for anyone, I will direct prospective families to emotional, spiritual and psychological support and other help. JFS’ clinicians really do reach every level of almost every need,” Peiser said. “That I have this very special role to provide outreach and find applicants, and donors, and to walk them through the process is something I’m very grateful for.”
Gifts that help others create families, truly are of the gifts of life.
For more information or to begin the application process, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JFSDallas.org/priya. To make a donation to the Priya Fund, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-PRIYA-donation with notation in the “additional comments” that the gift be directed to Priya.