If we’re going to discuss antisemitism, Jewish life on campus, and the Jewish future, we need to consider this:
In 1939, the world’s population was 2.3 billion with a Jewish population of 16.6 million people.
As the world population swelled past 8 billion, there are an estimated 15.7 million Jews. We still have not recovered our numbers, and our percentage of the world population has dropped by over 25%.
So if you are on the fence about having one more: please do!
Our grandparents had children for our people; today, many consider it a far more personal decision. There are plenty of personal reasons for having a larger family as well.
One of the most important health stories of 2023 was the US Surgeon General’s advisory about the devastating impact of the epidemic of loneliness and isolation in the United States.
I noticed this when I first became a rabbi. I would visit people in their homes and realize that they often spent a lot of time in silence. With small families, there was not enough “social capital” to keep each other engaged, cared for, and supported.
Larger families are incredibly dynamic. For the parent, it increases the joy-filled moments of parenthood, which are multiplied. For the children, there is a literal sisterhood they will always be able to call on. And upon becoming a grandparent, it really starts to pay off: there is always an upcoming wedding, birth, bar mitzvah, or graduation coming up.
Life is fuller, busier, and more productive.
In a moving scene, the Torah depicts the final days of Jacob’s life. He gathers his children and to each he speaks a personal message and unique blessing. In beautiful poetry, he highlights their uniqueness and the contribution they are called upon to make. One senses the love and closeness of the moment and its impact in forming and forging our people.
I once witnessed such a moment. In a small ICU room at LA’s Cedar Sinai Hospital, my grandmother, her ten children, their spouses, and a couple of friends were gathered and softly singing as my grandfather’s soul was departing. I was the only grandchild present.
Looking around the room at the family she and my Zaidy built, Bubby said, “I could have had some more”.
I was only 16 at the time, but her words etched into my soul the message “you will never regret the children you have”.
This article is dedicated in honor of the birthday of my late brother-in-law Mendel Plotkin, Menachem Mendel ben Meir Yaakov OBM. While he built so much in only 43 years, the family he formed will forever be his greatest legacy.