Sisterhood Blog

Jewish Baby Rituals, Revisited

By Deborah Kolben

  • Print
  • Share Share

When my uncle died at 60 from a stroke last year, my aunt, who is not particularly religious, threw herself into reading about the Jewish rituals around death. Among the many edicts were instructions not to go to movies or parties, during the 30 days after a loved one’s death. And my aunt quickly found out why. When she tried to go to a large fundraiser at a fancy hotel, she got as far as the door — just the sound of glasses clinking and muffled laughter was enough to send her running; it’s depressing to be around joyous, drunk people when your own world has just collapsed.

I thought about this as I read Debra Nussbaum Cohen’s Sisterhood blog post about the superstitions around childbirth.

Jews traditionally do not acquire anything for the baby until it is actually born. Bassinets, onesies and wipies are all supposed to be delivered after the birth. And this is understandable, for all of the reasons that Debra so eloquently points out. Whatever you think about the Evil Eye, how depressing to come home to a nursery with baby socks and an empty cradle if, God forbid, something happened to the baby.

But in this case, if something does happen, having a cradle to dismantle is the least of your problems. My own baby is due next month and thanks to modern technology, I’ve seen her on an ultrasound monitor no less than a dozen times. I’ve seen her squirm and wiggle; I’ve seen the shape of her nose and lips. And regardless of whether I have a nursery, it would be devastating to lose her.

On a financial note, having a baby is pricey. To follow the Jewish traditions would mean ordering everything I need for the baby and then having it delivered after she is born. But instead of buying things, I’m cobbling together as many hand-me-downs as I can from friends and neighbors.

While I do agree that we have these guideposts — call them what you want, “superstitions” or “rituals” — for a reason, sometimes we must also adapt these traditions to the realities of our modern lives.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Pregnancy, Evil Eye

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.


Comments
Elizabeth Fri. Sep 18, 2009

Give me a break and ignore the baby-industrial complex. You do NOT need very much on hand (besides a car seat) when a newborn comes home from the hospital (for example, they can sleep perfectly well in an empty bureau drawer lined with a clean towel for the first couple of days). That pricey stroller you linked to? Probably not safe for a newborn anyway. (we didn't bother with a stroller for our baby for the first few months--we just carried her around town in a $30 sling, which kept her warmer anyway).

Friends and neighbors who are willing to give you hand-me-downs are usually willing to hang on to them until the baby is home. If you're using disposable diapers, you can pick them up on the way home from the hospital.

diane Fri. Sep 25, 2009

I agree with Elizabeth. You need a few onesies, blankets, and some diapers and that's about it. Modern technology fools us into believing that we are in control but we're not and I know of several highly educated women like myself who lost their baby right before or during childbirth due to a ruptured placenta or a cord around the neck. I only give baby gifts when the parents have seen the whites of the baby's eyes and heard her lungs work. I felt the same about my own pregnancy and had almost nothing until my son was born, and thankfully, he was healthy.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • 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.