In Baby Frenzy, British Royals Show 'Jewish' Restraint

No Name and Sparse Details Typical of Orthodox Births

The Jewish Way: The media were in a frenzy over the impending birth of Britain’s royal baby. But the royal family seemed to be taking a studious approach more typical of how Jewish families traditionally approach giving birth.
getty images
The Jewish Way: The media were in a frenzy over the impending birth of Britain’s royal baby. But the royal family seemed to be taking a studious approach more typical of how Jewish families traditionally approach giving birth.

By Jillian Scheinfeld

Published July 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — When the news broke Monday that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, had gone into labor, it seemed that London could not have been more prepared.

For weeks, reporters and photographers had been camped out in front of the maternity ward at St. Mary’s Hospital. The choreography of how the royal baby’s name would be announced was well-known: A car would drive from the hospital to Buckingham Palace, where the new name would be posted on an easel.

Yes, some crucial elements were missing surrounding the world’s most highly anticipated birth since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had their twins in 2008.

Kate, now known as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and William had said they wanted the baby’s gender to be a surprise, so nobody knew whether to expect a prince or princess. Prince Charles, heir to the throne and the expectant grandfather, did not rush to the hospital’s Jewish-funded wing when the news came that Kate had gone into labor. Instead, he stuck to his planned schedule with a visit to the National Railway Museum in York.

It was a restraint that seemed, well, Jewish.

Like the royals, Jews traditionally have shunned pre-birth celebrations, and many stick to traditions in which they try to say and reveal as little as possible about their pregnancy until the baby’s arrival.

In the haredi Orthodox world, most women don’t even announce their pregnancies at all out of a reluctance to trumpet good news – for reasons of modesty and superstition.

“Jewish women feel conflicted because it’s incredibly helpful to prepare for the baby’s birth, but they still feel strange and think it will invite the evil eye if they celebrate their pregnancy,” says Deborah Kolben, editor of the Jewish parenting website Kveller.com. “When you try to talk about superstitions rationally they seem ridiculous, but it’s something that has been passed along and makes you feel like you have control over something when in reality you don’t.”

Some women wear amulets during pregnancy to stave off the evil eye, or “ayin hara.” In Jewish medieval mythology, the figure most threatening to a woman, Lilith, is notorious for strangling babies, robbing mothers of their children.

Jewish folklorist Howard Schwartz says the day his mother found out she was pregnant with him 69 years ago, she and her husband were planning a trip to the zoo. Her grandmother, hearing of the zoo excursion, warned her daughter not to look at the monkeys.

“Whatever you see before you’re pregnant can affect the baby,” she told her daughter, according to Schwartz.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.