The Frum Romeo and Juliet
I have changed identifying details, but otherwise this story is 100% true.
Dalia and Shlomo started dating when they were both barely 16, and their parents were beyond hysterical.
Shlomo, on the one hand, was the oldest child in a typical right-wing, Orthodox Israeli family.
Dalia’s parents, on the other hand, were anti-religious Holocaust survivors who had been prominent members of the Polish Communist Party before they made aliya to Israel in the 1960s.
But the couple, against their parents’ wishes, continued to see one another and by the age of 19, this Israeli Romeo and Juliet were married. A year later they were blessed with their first child.
Dalia’s mother was beside herself, “Dalia, you are only 20 years old! I know you have now become fanatically religious like Shlomo, but PLEASE do attempt, just this once, to have some common sense! No more babies until you finish your degree!”
But Dalia and her husband didn’t follow her mother’s advice. And every two or three years Dalia and Shlomo would bring a new baby into the world.
In the meantime, Dalia managed to earn a BA and then an MA in Social Work and she and Shlomo moved from their crowded Jerusalem apartment to a larger one on a yishuv near Ramallah, a decision which deeply angered Dalia’s parents because they considered their new home to be located within the disputed “Occupied Territories.”
And in other ways, as well, things were far from smooth for the young couple. Dalia’s OB/GYN would frequently joke that Dalia was a walking text book of all the complications that a woman could possibly experience during pregnancy and birth. On average, Dalia experienced 2 or even 3 miscarriages between every successful pregnancy, and her 5th child tragically died of organ failure during her first month of life.
At Dalia’s bedside following the miscarriages or when Dalia was enduring one of her many months of total bedrest, her mother was adamant. “Dalia, you know how much I love my grandchildren. I adore them! But enough is enough! How much does one woman have to endure? 3 (and then 4 or 5 or 6) children is plenty! No person should have to suffer like this!”
But Dalia’s traumatic gynecological history only made her and Shlomo more appreciative of the miracle of bringing a new child into the world.
She and Shlomo continued pushing their way along the rocky road towards their dream of having a large family.
At the age of 35, Dalia gave birth to her 8th and final child.*
At the bris, Dalia’s mother approached her daughter, and Dalia was startled to see that her mother had tears in her eyes.
“Dalia,” she said, “I never told you this, I don’t know why I never did. But you, Dalia, were named after my beloved grandmother Dina. And she was also extremely religious, just like you and Shlomo. And she also was the mother of 8 children, just like you.”
“I cannot tell you how proud you have made me today.”
*After the age of 35 Dalia was never able to sustain a healthy pregnancy again.