The Rock Star at the Holy of Holies

The Rock Star at the Holy of Holies

Yesterday I was praying at the holiest place in the world, across from the Temple’s Holy of Holies, when I was surrounded by blood-curdling screams.

Fear washed over my heart until I looked up and saw a large group of religious junior-high-school girls on a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels who were jumping and yelling as they tried to push past one another to see something. A girl standing next to me with a pony-tail halfway down her back was crying with emotion and saying “I can’t…I can’t…” as two of her friends tried to calm her down with a hand on each shoulder.

“What happened?” I asked one of the calming-down friends.

“It’s Eyal Golan!” He’s praying by the Holy of Holies.”

Eyal Golan is one of Israel’s most popular Mizrachi musicians, and it took over five minutes for the girls’ teacher to get the girls quiet again.

“How funny,” I thought. G-d is as close to this place as anywhere on earth. But the Creator of the World, I guess, isn’t nearly as exciting as Eyal Golan.
I was 13-years-old when the mom of my best friend, Jenny Donelan, took us to the Michael Jackson concert. I had never been to a rock concert before, and I remember how when Michael Jackson appeared on the stage we girls screamed with excitement. And for the next few hours we jumped up and down and sang along…

“Beat it! Just beat it!” “Billie Jean’s not my lover…” “Thriller, thriller, yeah.”

We screamed and screamed until we were hoarse.

But the next day at school I told Jenny something that got her really furious at me….

“The truth is, it wasn’t so much fun.”

“Come on, cut it out! You were screaming as much as all of us!”

But even though I couldn’t exactly express why, somewhere in my 13-year-old heart I understood that this was the kind of fun that felt satisfying for a few hours but afterwards left you feeling more empty than before you’d arrived. Like a piece of wonder bread gobbled up to fill a grumbling stomach.
The most recent US Census found that one in five women between the ages of 40 and 45 has no children. That’s up from one in ten childless children in the early 1970s.

Some of these women are married and either they or their spouse tragically suffers from fertility issues. Some of these women have tragically never found a spouse.

But many, many of these couples are DINKs: Double Income, No Kids. DINKs are generally successful professionals who don’t want to cramp their pleasurable lifestyle by having kids. Since they don’t have to spend their money and time on caring for their children, they are able to enjoy more expensive vacations and luxury cars and candle-lit dinners at fancy restaurants.

Three meals a day of wonder bread.
We have known the Levys for over 20 years; the husband is in Kollel and the wife is a housewife and a devoted JewishMOM of 12, KA”H.

Josh and I used to go to their home often for Shabbat when their kids were small…. Money was very tight, and the apartment was way too small for such a large family, and Miriam was working from early in the morning until late at night just to keep her large family on its feet. I remember feeling pity for Miriam when, without fail, she would fall sound asleep at the table not long after Kiddush.

Nowadays we only see the Levys at their children’s weddings which take place every year or two.

At the last wedding, I looked on in awe at Miriam’s grown children and growing crowd of grandchildren. All of them caring people and good Jews.

And I told Miriam, “You know, I’m looking at your family tonight, and I know that all of this, ALL OF THIS, was accomplished by your hard work and your devotion as a mother.”

And Miriam just smiled her quiet, bashful, beautiful smile and said, “Thank You,baruch Hashem,” because she knows it’s true.

No wonder bread anywhere to be seen. Just pure, unadulterated, hard-earned pleasure.


  1. Better for people who feel that they do not want children, to just not have them…really – this is far from tragic.

  2. Inspirational! I live in Manhattan in a wonderful apartment building full of neighbors who wonder why I keep having more children. This piece gives me such chizuk!!

  3. This was a delightful article… I missed all the rock concerts but went to the political rallies as a child and of course we were democrats and it too was lacking something.

    AI agree with Nili that people who don’t want children shouldn’t have them it is too tragic for a child to be unwanted, unloved and possibly abused….

    However we will get our upance. the Arabs are birthing 6x’s to every one North American and even in Israel it is not so easy to keep ahead of them.

  4. Michelle

    Having kids is not a numbers game. Each child is a world unto themselves…so to judge someone else because they chose not to have children seems judgmental and unfair. It is an extremely individual decision. You don’t know what reasons somebody has for not having children and just to bring it down to numbers seems so wrong and sad to me. What will it come to next….? Oh…such and such only has 3 kids? Ploni only has 2 kids….? We can’t ever know the reasons people have for the things they do. Maybe they can’t handle having children…. Who gave us the permission to look at others and judge what they do…?

  5. I’ve been going through your posts on “childless living” (ironic given what this site is for I know!) because I belong to a group of mostly frum young women online who haven’t yet had children but want them badly. I would assume that most women here don’t have a clue of what it is like to go through years and years of infertility treatments: I definitely don’t! That is because I haven’t had to do it, am only relatively recently married and so only just now qualify as having “infertility issues” and am very hopeful I will never need any other treatment but more time. But listening to the women going through that talk makes me admire them SO MUCH. This is what I’ve learned from them (/us):

    -Don’t criticise a woman who doesn’t have children because you don’t know what the issue is. She may claim she didn’t want kids but that is not always true. Not everybody wants to talk about their pain and some women don’t even realise they are in pain. Sometimes the husband doesn’t want children and the wife talks herself into also not wanting them because she can’t force him.

    -While having children and working really hard to raise them can be the greatest pleasure in the world, in a bizarre spiritual way (and I thank my teachers for learning this) NOT having children at the end of your life can also give you the happiness of life well lived. What if all you ever wanted was a large family, or even just one baby, and you tried all you could to have that, with huge pain and sacrifice, financial, emotional, physical, but Hashem just said no? That does not mean your life was wasted, it can mean you did Hashem’s will in the moment against huge odds and achieved a massive spiritual victory. Think of great women who never had children but were always happy and did massive good in this world, such as Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer. Sometimes overcoming pain and more pain of childlessness day in and day out is what Hashem wants from a person. That is no less of an achievement than that of a devoted mother who sacrificed herself to her family.(And of course they are not in competition either).

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