Religion & Beliefs

Rabbis To Women: Work Those Ovaries!

There has been a lot of talk recently about women in the Jewish community feeling bullied into having kids. Here at Jewcy Izzy noted that a lot of the desperation and frustration that comes out of JDate is a result … Read More

By / February 21, 2008

There has been a lot of talk recently about women in the Jewish community feeling bullied into having kids. Here at Jewcy Izzy noted that a lot of the desperation and frustration that comes out of JDate is a result of communal expectations that good Jewish girls will have lots of kids to help populate Israel and stick it to Hitler. Much as I love Israel and hate Hitler, those are not good enough reasons for me to want to bear children. If I have kids, it should be because I feel able and ready to take care of someone else, provide for them, and love them unconditionally. And anyway, it’s not like women make babies all on our own—there are men involved, and it’s ridiculous that they don’t seem to be getting the same pressure as women. Some of the best analysis of the push towards baby-making in observant Jewish communities is over at JSpot, where Hannah Farber has a post titled “I’m Going to Count to Three, and Then All Rabbis Need To Get Out Of My Uterus.” She writes:

I say: if the rabbis are so committed to making this a communal issue, the rabbis should raise the children. In fact, given their comfortable salaries and high communal status, they have no excuse: they should be adopting and converting children by the dozen. Given the impressive recent developments in medicine that prolong human life, I wouldn’t excuse any rabbi under sixty from performing this mitzvah. Wouldn’t that make a fine statement of commitment to the Jewish future?

And even when men are included in the directives for having kids, I’m still offended when a bunch of rabbis want to tell me how many times I have to grow a person and then push that person out of my vagina.  Did you know the Conservative Movement’s law committee (the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards) recently published a position paper that says any couple capable of raising more than two children, should do so, and Conservative rabbis should all be pushing this on their congregants? The extra children should be called “Mitzvah children” because they’ll ensure a Jewish community well into the future. Rabbi Jason Miller notes on his blog that he’s heard Rabbi Elliot Dorff tell young people they should get married and start having kids in their early twenties, and they should have more than two kids. (I’ve heard Dorff say we should have a minimum of four kids, so I guess he was being a softy when he spoke to Jason’s class.) All of this when day schools are rising well above $15,000 a year for tuition, not to mention the inevitable college costs, and all of the other expenses of being an observant Jew. And what about those of who hadn’t found our soulmates in our early twenties? In the past year I’ve dated an obnoxious Israeli guy, an incredibly self-righteous administrative assistant at a Jewish political organization, a boring hedge fund manager, and a med student who didn’t have time for me. Should I have just picked one to marry so as not to waste any valuable time on my biological clock? Something tells me that would not have been a good plan. I love babies, and I bet I’ll have one someday. But if my rabbi mentioned to me that it was high time I got hitched and knocked up, I’m pretty sure I’d stop going to shul.