The Frum Romeo and Juliet

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.

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5 comments

  1. What is the message behind this story?

    • JewishMom

      I have found that sometimes when we do things that seem to go against what our parents want, in fact we are fulfilling our parents deepest wishes.

      For example, I thought that making aliya would disappoint my parents, but in fact, my mother told me (after I’d moved to Israel) that making aliya had been her dream for many years, before she’d gotten married. Sort of like Terach who was headed for the same place as Avraham (the Land of Canaan) but only Avraham reached their common destination.

  2. Chana Jenny, I appreciate and of course agree with the message you just wrote in a comment.

    But the story bothered me too (assuming it bothered Frayda at least a little).

    I’ll tell you why.

    There are some women who are told by their doctors (not just one – they get several opinions) that their health, and even their lives, are in danger if they keep on conceiving babies. All kinds of dangerous things happen to them – they almost die a few times – and yet they erroneously think they are doing a mitzvah, doing G-d’s Will, by continuing to conceive. Since they are so eager to have more babies, they don’t even consult a halachic authority on whether they are permitted to endanger the mother’s life like that.

    In a case like this (I’m not saying Dalia is one – I don’t know the details here), going ahead with getting pregnant again and again is no mitzvah. It’s just selfish; it’s what the parents feel like doing. In fact it’s the same exact concept as those parents who STOP having babies, who prevent conception, because going to Europe without the kids turns them on. In both cases, the parents are doing whatever turns them on – not whatever G-d wants of them.

    Not pointing a finger at Dalia. Don’t know the details. But the story bothered me because it reminded me a lot of the women who I do know who endanger their lives again and again to have more babies. Who is going to raise the ones they have? If your goal is to serve Hashem, and not do what’s comfortable and joyous for you, why not consult halachic authority?

    • JewishMom

      thanks rishe, I think that you make a really important point. In Dalia’s case, while I don’t know the specifics of her medical situation, I do know that at the age of 35 she started miscarrying again and again, and at that point she decided with a doctor and her posek to prevent all further pregnancies (B”H, she is now a grandmother many times over. By the way, she is the matriarch of probably the most extraordinarily wonderful family I’ve ever met).

      Dalia’s husband is also a respected posek himself, who is extremely reasonable and moderate, and I cannot imagine he would allow his wife to do anything that would endanger her.

      With all that said, I think you make an extremely important point, and I’m happy that it will appear with the article to avoid problematic misunderstandings.

  3. Hi Chana Jenny – thenks for this thought provoking article. I, too, had some issues with it, and I feel they are important to emphasize. Although some stories have a wonderful happily ever after ending – that doesn’t always mean the means to the end were praiseworthy. An orthodox young man going out with a secular high-school student would in most cases have a different ending.
    Dating should be done with the intent of marriage (even if it isn’t shiduchim, a couple who is mature enough and dating to marry is a whole ‘nother story). Dating for 3 years (especially with someone secular)and at that age has many halachic implications, and even the most sincere and modest individuals are likely to to do things they weren’t planning on.
    I myself have a close family member who has an almost identical story – only they are married about a year. Yes, they are a great couple, two wonderful individuals. Could they not have waited 2 years for her to finish high-school and saved themselves the myriad of issues that arose? The parents AND they would’ve been happier had they had the strength to do that.
    These type of stories usually “just happen” without any intelligent forethought and thank G-D He helps them along the way (maybe with the many many prayers of the parents?) to mature intelligently and arrive at a happy ending.

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