Editor’s note: Reader Dina Bacharach sent the following letter to Piper Hoffman (“Our surprising choice: Living child-free,” Jewish News, Dec. 6) and asked Jewish News to publish it.
I read your article and my heart cried for your loss – your never knowing the joy, the happiness, the excitement and intense feelings of having children. And for never knowing the never-ending busy-ness, noise and fun of children.
I had three miscarriages, and never thought I’d be able to have children, then G-d blessed me with four wonderful children. I’ve never been so busy in my life and never felt so blessed. I’ll be honest, would I love the honeymoon moments again? Sure, for a bit, but not much more than that. I enjoy my life with my whole family. Breathers are good, but only if I’m coming up for air to what I have.
Ten years and four children later, I am still gazing into my husband’s eyes with love and wonder. And since those moments don’t happen every day, they are so precious and much cherished. And our love has grown since we’ve had children. We share our most beautiful gifts and nachas and struggles together as a unit.
Ask a parent who’s lost a child during their youth – they’ve lost their world (even if they have other children). I am sorry that you are not allowing yourself the chance to tap into that potential. You mentioned how much you were going to miss your cats while you went on a trip. I don’t know how to describe to you how deeply you would miss your children if you left them for a little vacation. Because children physically and spiritually come from you. I miss my children even while they are at school.
And I see your pain of a lost dream. Because you clearly wrote that you wanted to be a mom.
Piper, I was hurt by your line, “Life would be better without kids.” How could you know?
Life could be different, yes; quieter, perhaps; less direct responsibilities for other people’s lives, OK.
But better? How could you say that without ever experiencing having your own children? And it is just not true. Your comment is very hurtful and degrading to all of us parents and our marriages.
At the end of your article, you quoted the often-repeated saying, “If you don’t raise Jewish children, you’re letting Hitler win.”
Please allow me to share a children’s book called “A Little Girl Named Miriam” by Dina Rosenfeld. It is a beautifully illustrated biblical story of Miriam, the sister of Moses, and her role in exile and later the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.
This book shows young children how a little girl is brave enough to speak up to the mighty dictator Pharaoh and courageously warn him that his plan to kill all Jewish boys just won’t work.
The book continues with Amram, Moses’ father, hearing Pharaoh’s decree and advising the Jewish husbands to abstain from marital relations in order to ensure that no Jewish baby boys are born at all, thereby thwarting Pharoah’s plan. If there are no babies born, then there will be no babies for Pharaoh to kill.
In a religion where respecting one’s parents is one of the Ten Commandments, it is amazing that this young child, Miriam, once again raises her little finger, commanding respect and giving rebuke to her very own father.
“Father, your idea is even worse than Pharaoh’s,” says Miriam. “Pharoah wants to destroy only the Jewish baby boys, and your plan will make it be that there are no more Jewish baby boys or girls.” Recognizing the truth in little, wise Miriam’s words, Amram takes back his advice and the Jewish people continue to have children nonetheless. Soon after, Moses, the redeemer from Egyptian exile, is born to Amram and Yocheved. Keeping this timeless biblical story in mind, I think the basis of the above quote can be understood in another way.
So many Jewish children, lives and families were killed and ended by Hitler, destroying generation upon generations of Jewish continuity. But if we don’t have children at all, we are even worse than Hitler. We are not even giving the beautiful waiting souls a chance to lead a meaningful Jewish life. And even more so, if we don’t give our children a chance to know what being Jewish means and give them a true, all-encompassing Jewish education, we are destroying Judaism at its core.
Yes, you and your husband will have to work together to figure how to raise your children in a way that they can connect to our rich Jewish heritage that builds such a truly wonderful life.
Piper, I don’t mean to hurt you at all, and I apologize if I touched a raw nerve. I was offended by your article.
I know the pain of not having children and I also know the blessing and joy of having children.
Maybe, one day, Piper, our kids can have a play date? I think we would connect well and we’ll have so much fun!