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

(page 2 of 2)

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York, says the superstitions surrounding pregnancy and birth are not based in Jewish law and may even contravene them.

“As Jews, we are supposed to believe that God protects us, and sometimes these superstitious practices rely on forces other than God,” Lopatin said. “It’s almost in the category of magic.”

Historically, magic and superstitions were a way for expectant mothers to deal with the complicated, unpredictable and dangerous process of pregnancy.

While technology has eliminated some of those unknowns and dangers, pregnancy is still a fraught process, and superstitions have persisted, says Sylvia Barack Fishman, a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University.

“Pregnancy superstitions remain a combination of fear of evil wishes and a very practical response to medical realities,” Fishman says.

Today, many Jewish women say superstitions have no place when it comes to pregnancy. Many plan full baby showers without concern about whether celebrating before the birth tempts fate. Others hold smaller celebrations, such as tea parties, that do not involve gifts.

Jewish educator Sarah Wilensky, a mother of two, said she did not want a baby shower when she was pregnant with her daughter, but her sister-in-law insisted on a party so she relented.

“But I told her no gifts for the baby – just casual brunch for friends and family – and that if people really wanted to bring gifts, maybe something small for me and my husband to enjoy while we were waiting for her arrival,” Wilensky said. “It ended up being lovely and I received many gifts.”

Connecticut-based Jewish blogger Cara Paiuk said she told her close friends and family immediately when she discovered she was pregnant with her first son. She did the same for her twins, who are nearly 3 months old.

“I firmly believe in sharing with your friends and family,” said Paiuk, who blogs for Kveller. “If, God forbid, something went wrong or was going wrong, it gives them the opportunity to love and support you rather than be in a vacuum where no one knows and you feel isolated and lonely.

“I had some complications with this pregnancy and I was very open about them. The community and friends rallied. They brought food, kept me company, looked after my son when I was in the hospital.”

Jordana Horn, a journalist, lawyer, blogger and mother of five, says she holds on to some superstitions.

“I would never buy things for the new baby before the baby was born and keep it in my house,” she said. “But I have five children, and I like to find out what the gender is when I can – in no small part to tell the older sister or brother what is coming to them. It’s fun to get excited.”


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!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • 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.