How to Honor the 11 Jews Killed in Pittsburgh: Have More Children

Here's a way of honoring the 11 Jews killed while attending Sabbath services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh: encourage each congregation to have 11 new births, above two children per family.

This idea comes from what the mother of three-day-old Amiad Yisrael declared after burying the child, who died from complications of gunshots while in utero during a terrorist attack in Israel.

Many blamed anti-Semitism for the deaths in Pittsburgh.

In Paducah, Kentucky, Temple Israel congregation president Laurie Ballew said anti-Semitism and racism have been under the surface in America for decades.  "But of late, it hasn't been under the surface.  It seems that people feel like they have the permission to blatantly demonstrate their hate."

In Palm Beach, Rabbi Michael Resnick wrote his congregants: 

I ask you to come to Temple Emanu-El as a demonstration that we will not cower in the face of hatred.  I ask you to come to temple to remind the world that the Jewish people stand together in unity at all times.  Although we may live in different cities and belong to different congregations or denominations, we are one people.  And I ask you to come this Saturday to remind ourselves that we are stronger together.

As far away as Fargo, N.D.,  there was a memorial service for the Tree of Life Community at Temple Beth El.  The temple's Facebook page says it wanted to "[s]tand together with Jews and supporters around the world.  Together may we respond to hatred with love."

Synagogues nationwide were filled that week with Jews and others mourning the losses in Pittsburgh. 

Is anti-Semitism really what is leading to the demise of non-Orthodox Jewry in America?  True, 11 people with an average age of 74 were murdered that day in Conservative Shabbat services, but more than that amount is wiped out in single families.

Writing in a Times of Israel blog piece, one Midwestern rabbi noted that his grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, had produced three children, the first of which was born in a displaced persons camp shortly after the war.  The three children, he wrote, had a total of four grandchildren (one of which is the rabbi).  The four grandchildren, now in their forties, have only a total of four youngsters approaching bar mitzvah age.  Had the survivors' family continued to have three children, rather than four youngsters in their early teens, there would be 27. 

The New York Times reported recently that completed fertility among all Americans is running at 1.8 children per woman.  For populations not to shrink, it takes each couple having at least two – one to replace the mother and one to replace the father.  Jewish women tend to study longer, marry later, and have fewer children than average.  They, or their husbands, may have large student loans to pay down;  they, like all Millennials, seek to live in larger homes or apartments than their parents did.

If fertility among Jewish Millennials is 1.6, then each 1,000 women will have 1,600 children – 800 sons and 800 daughters (more or less).  At this rate, the 800 daughters will bear 640 granddaughters.  With intermarriage rates running 50 to 70 percent, and significant numbers of young people becoming JNRs (Jews of No Religion), it's not hard to see why so many see the demographic demise of American Jewry.

As a sanity check, how many young Jewish families do you know with more than two children?

The situation in Israel is markedly different.  Couples there are having more than three children per family.  At 3.0, each 1,000 women are having 1,500 sons and 1,500 daughters.  The 1,500 daughters are having or will have 2,250 granddaughters.

This brings us to the decision by Shira Ish-Ran, mother of the murdered baby, to have more children.

According to the Hebrew news site Walla, when she saw her dying son for the first time, Ish-Ran said, "I will prove to them, I will show them.  I will bring many more babies into the world."  She added, "Am Yisrael Chai," Hebrew for "the people of Israel live."

Progressive Jews in America, many of whom held memorial services for those who perished in Pitsburgh, say they seek "Tikkun Olam," or repair of the world.  Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, writes on its web page, "Reform Jews are committed to social justice.  Even as Reform Jews embrace ritual, prayer, and ceremony more than ever, we continue to see social justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish crown."  

The American Spectator magazine this week remarked that various presidencies have come to be remembered by only a small number of words.  For Bill Clinton, it was, "Did not have sex with that woman"; for Ronald Reagan, it was "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!"; and for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, it was "Ask not what..."

Perhaps it's become time for leaders of Progressive Jewry to ask not what America can do for them – raise taxes, allow illegal immigration, offer universal health care – and to ask instead what they can do for the nation and the Jewish people.  Because if they and their contemporaries don't begin again having children, other than among the Orthodox, there won't be a Jewish people in America.

Here's a way of honoring the 11 Jews killed while attending Sabbath services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh: encourage each congregation to have 11 new births, above two children per family.

This idea comes from what the mother of three-day-old Amiad Yisrael declared after burying the child, who died from complications of gunshots while in utero during a terrorist attack in Israel.

Many blamed anti-Semitism for the deaths in Pittsburgh.

In Paducah, Kentucky, Temple Israel congregation president Laurie Ballew said anti-Semitism and racism have been under the surface in America for decades.  "But of late, it hasn't been under the surface.  It seems that people feel like they have the permission to blatantly demonstrate their hate."

In Palm Beach, Rabbi Michael Resnick wrote his congregants: 

I ask you to come to Temple Emanu-El as a demonstration that we will not cower in the face of hatred.  I ask you to come to temple to remind the world that the Jewish people stand together in unity at all times.  Although we may live in different cities and belong to different congregations or denominations, we are one people.  And I ask you to come this Saturday to remind ourselves that we are stronger together.

As far away as Fargo, N.D.,  there was a memorial service for the Tree of Life Community at Temple Beth El.  The temple's Facebook page says it wanted to "[s]tand together with Jews and supporters around the world.  Together may we respond to hatred with love."

Synagogues nationwide were filled that week with Jews and others mourning the losses in Pittsburgh. 

Is anti-Semitism really what is leading to the demise of non-Orthodox Jewry in America?  True, 11 people with an average age of 74 were murdered that day in Conservative Shabbat services, but more than that amount is wiped out in single families.

Writing in a Times of Israel blog piece, one Midwestern rabbi noted that his grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, had produced three children, the first of which was born in a displaced persons camp shortly after the war.  The three children, he wrote, had a total of four grandchildren (one of which is the rabbi).  The four grandchildren, now in their forties, have only a total of four youngsters approaching bar mitzvah age.  Had the survivors' family continued to have three children, rather than four youngsters in their early teens, there would be 27. 

The New York Times reported recently that completed fertility among all Americans is running at 1.8 children per woman.  For populations not to shrink, it takes each couple having at least two – one to replace the mother and one to replace the father.  Jewish women tend to study longer, marry later, and have fewer children than average.  They, or their husbands, may have large student loans to pay down;  they, like all Millennials, seek to live in larger homes or apartments than their parents did.

If fertility among Jewish Millennials is 1.6, then each 1,000 women will have 1,600 children – 800 sons and 800 daughters (more or less).  At this rate, the 800 daughters will bear 640 granddaughters.  With intermarriage rates running 50 to 70 percent, and significant numbers of young people becoming JNRs (Jews of No Religion), it's not hard to see why so many see the demographic demise of American Jewry.

As a sanity check, how many young Jewish families do you know with more than two children?

The situation in Israel is markedly different.  Couples there are having more than three children per family.  At 3.0, each 1,000 women are having 1,500 sons and 1,500 daughters.  The 1,500 daughters are having or will have 2,250 granddaughters.

This brings us to the decision by Shira Ish-Ran, mother of the murdered baby, to have more children.

According to the Hebrew news site Walla, when she saw her dying son for the first time, Ish-Ran said, "I will prove to them, I will show them.  I will bring many more babies into the world."  She added, "Am Yisrael Chai," Hebrew for "the people of Israel live."

Progressive Jews in America, many of whom held memorial services for those who perished in Pitsburgh, say they seek "Tikkun Olam," or repair of the world.  Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, writes on its web page, "Reform Jews are committed to social justice.  Even as Reform Jews embrace ritual, prayer, and ceremony more than ever, we continue to see social justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish crown."  

The American Spectator magazine this week remarked that various presidencies have come to be remembered by only a small number of words.  For Bill Clinton, it was, "Did not have sex with that woman"; for Ronald Reagan, it was "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!"; and for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, it was "Ask not what..."

Perhaps it's become time for leaders of Progressive Jewry to ask not what America can do for them – raise taxes, allow illegal immigration, offer universal health care – and to ask instead what they can do for the nation and the Jewish people.  Because if they and their contemporaries don't begin again having children, other than among the Orthodox, there won't be a Jewish people in America.