Ellen Geller Kamaras
“I grew up in a loving home in which we were encouraged to achieve our dreams and goals. My passion as a midwife is to offer women superb healthcare, which is both holistic and patient-centered.” ~~ Jacklyn ~~
I enjoyed an enthralling three hours with Jacklyn Lahav, a certified nurse-midwife, wife, and mother of three children, a gifted singer, and a strong proponent and volunteer for animal rescue. Let’s look at Jacklyn’s story to learn about who she is, her life purpose, and her goals.
A Little Family History
Jacklyn Lahav, née Salama, was born in Gravesend, Brooklyn, to Barbara Shreety Cohen and Maurice Salama. She is the fourth in a family of five children. Barbara, of Egyptian and Syrian descent, is American and Maurice is one of the fortunate children from Egypt who was rescued by Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz, the founder of Mirrer Yeshiva, in the late 1950s. Maurice, only 12, arrived in Brooklyn with his brother, who was two years older. Their parents followed later.
Jacklyn began with a narrative of her family and how loving they were and still are. “I grew up in a household full of love and one that was rich in closeness. We were packed into our apartment and there was a large age difference between the first-generation kids and the second generation (three before me and one after). I still love hanging out with my parents and siblings.”
As a life coach, I understand the significance of one’s family of origin. It is the family that has the strongest impact on the child and shapes a child’s learning and socialization. A child’s family is their primary social group, and positive childhood relationships with parents and siblings lead to more positive and healthy behaviors in adult life. As Jacklyn and I spoke, I observed how much her early family life influenced the woman she is today.
Her siblings describe Jacklyn as creative, humane, persistent, and curious. Jacklyn added compassionate, open, friendly, and spirited. You will see these attributes as her story unfolds.
Jacklyn’s Interests and Talents Blossom
Jacklyn attended Yeshivah of Flatbush elementary school and high school and called herself a very diligent and serious student. Having three siblings ahead of her, Jacklyn easily acclimated to school. High school opened a whole new world to Jacklyn. “I realized I could exercise more than my academic muscle and blossomed into my own with dramatic arts.”
Jacklyn appreciates her parents greatly for seeing and reinforcing their children’s talents and unique qualities. “They were supportive of my passions and roles in school productions. There was never a question about higher education. Sons and daughters would go to college no matter the cost.”
Maurice and Barbara were ardent role models and Jacklyn credits them for the Salama kids’ strong work ethic. Jacklyn fondly recalls visiting her mother’s office at shul and her mom bringing home her typewriter to help the Salama children prepare their college applications.
Jacklyn first noticed her affinity toward life sciences during high school. Her dad was also impassioned about chemistry and physiology, and having Lonny Benamy, A”H, as a professor, Jacklyn found her interest in reproductive medicine.
Passion for Medicine and Holistic Health Care
Jacklyn was accepted at Barnard College, her first choice, but chose New York University, which did not require her to dorm. The jobs that Jacklyn secured during the summers “stirred her passion” for medicine and allowed her to witness doctors in action and learn more about the medical field.
Jacklyn interned with an ophthalmologist and worked in an administrative capacity in a fertility doctor’s office, enjoying them both immensely.
Jacklyn followed her heart and transferred to Barnard College after her sophomore year at NYU. While at NYU, something nagged at her regarding her pre-med studies. Jacklyn wanted to be a healthcare practitioner, but the culture of medicine deterred her. Jacklyn preferred a more holistic approach to healthcare, specifically for women. She thought about switching to midwifery, and met with the Columbia University Midwifery Program Director.
Jacklyn learned about the focus and scope of midwifery during her meeting and knew it was her calling. As she took many diverse classes at Barnard, she became well-educated and fascinated with culturally specific healthcare for women.
Jacklyn graduated from Barnard in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in biopsychology.
Balancing Career and Family
Jacklyn is married to Etai Lahav. Etai, of Ashkenazi descent, is an intellectual property litigator.
The couple has three children, Rivkah, 14, Shlomo, 11, and Moshe, 9. The family proudly practices both Ashkenazi and Sephardic minhagim.
After marrying in August 2003, Jacklyn and Etai partnered to balance their careers. Jacklyn worked as a paralegal and executive assistant while Etai was in law school. During Etai’s third year of law school, Jacklyn enrolled in Columbia University’s accelerated nursing program, a direct-entry program for advanced practice nursing, and chose the specialty of Midwifery. She was pregnant with her first child during the bachelor’s portion of the program. “My classmates practiced finding a fetal heartbeat on me.” Jacklyn graduated two weeks after Rivkah was born, in May. “Rivkah was a blessing, sleeping through the night by the end of the summer.” Jacklyn chose to continue her master’s studies at the NYU Meyers Midwifery Program, which offered more flexibility than Columbia’s curriculum.
“When I interviewed with Patricia Burkhardt, the NYU Program Director and a pillar in NY midwifery, she stood up and opened her arms to welcome me and I knew this was my home.”
Etai came home from his job as a law clerk and cared for Rivkah while Jacklyn attended night classes the first year of midwifery school. She became a full-time student the next year and loved her clinical rotations and the teaching methodology called “problem-based learning.” “They taught us the big picture, how to tease out the most important problems, take command, and create a treatment plan. Learning Gemara in Yeshivah of Flatbush was the best preparation for this educational model.”
Difficult Birth Experience Spurs Jacklyn to Help Others
During midwifery school, Jacklyn started a support group for mothers who had C-section deliveries. The support group gave these moms the chance to process their births and think about future births. Jacklyn focused her master’s thesis on hospital policies surrounding mothers’ wanting to try for a non-cesarean birth after having a cesarean. She received her M.S. in Midwifery in June 2009 and gave birth to her son Shlomo in July.
Jacklyn’s first childbirth experience informed and influenced her practice as a midwife and her mission to provide patient-centered care. Rivkah’s birth was by C-section in a hospital and Jacklyn believes the experience could have been less traumatic. Shlomo and Moshe were born at home.
After her initial midwifery position in a Staten Island Women’s Clinic, Jacklyn worked in private practice with an obstetrician and attended births at a major Brooklyn hospital. Jacklyn practiced what she learned in her training, to be “with women,” to listen, inform, and support their journeys. She thrived on offering the type of care that doctors did not.
After Moshe’s birth, Jacklyn opened her own midwifery practice. She performed services at her patients’ homes, which included general women’s care, post-partum care, and lactation care. After women reached out to her with pelvic pain complaints, Jacklyn pursued independent courses and educational opportunities to be able to care for women with these specific needs.
Healthy Moms Make Healthy Families
Jacklyn’s tone of care is guided by midwifery. In other countries, midwifery is more the mainstream care and the value of the mother’s post-partum care and other services are acknowledged and more prevalent. Research supports that when mothers are healthier, families are healthier.
“Women are the most important and active participants in their own healthcare and deserve high-touch and excellent care, not only during pregnancy and childbirth, but always. I’m a gateway to their overall wellness.”
It’s vital to give women the opportunities and skills to articulate their physical and other problems and practitioners need to know the right questions to ask, how to listen, and to give patients time to exercise their voices.
This Family Backs Up Each Other
Jacklyn’s family members appreciate the value of her work and what midwifery entails, and also know that they are her priority! “Etai and I take our family seriously and divide and conquer.” Her kids understand when Jacklyn is on a telemedicine video call, that her oldest child is called upon to pitch in to help with the youngest.
Two years ago, Jacklyn joined the Kol Ram choir at Ramaz and is enjoying exercising her voice again. Her family encouraged her to do it as they recognize that singing is very much a part of her.
Jacklyn communicates to her children that she is a person with her own passions. After singing, cooking is Jacklyn’s second creative outlet and she recently became a vegan. The Lahav’s love hosting meals for the holidays.
Jacklyn is a passionate and active volunteer for rabbit rescue and the family has rescued two rabbits who are very much family members. The children help her with rescue work. For relaxation, Jacklyn likes gardening, the beach, and reading cookbooks.
Connect with Jacklyn at www.jlmidwifery.com and at @kindkitchen_eats on Instagram.
Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org (www.lifecoachellen.com).