Two Weeks Late and Twenty Dollars Short

Okay, so, like, a MILLION YEARS AGO Dan held off on timely comments on this Jennifer Rubin horror show so that I might, as a Jew, be able to form the proper outrage against a piece that traffics in the most shopworn of anti-Semitic stereotypes. Alas, in the time it took me to get my act together, others got there.

All right. So I'm no longer going to respond with my Jew hat on (would that be a yarmulke?). I still feel the need to respond with another aspect of my identity: mom of the world's sweetest, smiliest, chubbiest-cheeked special needs kid.
Then there is the matter of the composition of her family. Outside the Orthodox community, where large families are increasingly the norm, having five children, as Palin does, is aberrant to American Jews. According to Smith’s study, Jews “have fewer brothers and sisters than any other ethnic/racial or religious group (2.4 vs. an average of 3.8)” and “the smallest current household size of any ethnic/racial or religious group (2.5 vs. an average of 2.9).”...And, of course, there is Palin’s youngest. Pro-life Americans saw Palin’s son Trig, born with Down syndrome in April 2008, as an affirmation of Palin’s deeply held beliefs, a rare instance in which a politician did more than mouth platitudes about a “culture of life.” But in affluent communities with large Jewish populations, Down-syndrome children are now largely absent due to the widespread use of diagnostic testing and “genetics counseling.” Trig was not a selling point with many Jewish women who couldn’t imagine making a similar choice—indeed, many have, in fact, made the opposite one.
On the first point made: Jews do have smaller families. It does not follow, of course, that they dislike people with large families. I grew up in a Jewish family and a neighborhood with tons of Jews. I have never in my life heard any animus against someone who has a large family. Maybe at most there's a "How do they manage?" comment. But it's not with disdain. My cousin has five kids, and I've never heard anyone in my family get on her case about this in any way (and my extended family, bless their hearts, rarely pass up an opportunity to get on someone's case).

Her second point alleged about Jewish attitudes toward families is not just ill-founded, however. It's disgusting.

I'm pretty familiar with the norms of "affluent communities with large Jewish populations." I have no doubt that, among Jews, abortion of fetuses with genetic disorders is widely considered permissible. That does not mean Jews consider it obligatory. And that does not mean that they are repelled by families who choose to have children with genetic disorders. Perhaps they consider it a misguided decision. But not an abhorrent decision.

The article is titled "Why Jews Hate Palin." Rubin is actually suggesting that the fact that many Jews consider a decision to have such a child as a reason to hate the mother. What a horrible, horrible caricature.

For the record: me and my son have experienced nothing but acceptance from the Jews I know. No one has asked why I had him. No one has avoided him. No one has avoided me, much less hated me for having him. The person who said "If I've learned one thing from all this, it's to get an amnio"? Not Jewish. The two who said, "If I were you, I'd totally be too afraid to have another baby"? Not Jewish. Okay, so one close Jewish family member did say, very cautiously, "Are you going to have an amnio the next time?" But that's the only thing I've heard on the topic from a Jew.

And while the whole experience has re-affirmed my atheism (while totally still respecting the theism of my fellow bloggers!), it has renewed my interest in getting involved in the Jewish community. Why? Because I know that, pace Rubin's nasty insinuations, my son will find loving acceptance there.


  1. Well, there is nothing wrong with getting an amnio either just because the more information a person has isn't a bad thing. We didn't have an amnio for any of our kids, but insurance didn't cover it as a routine matter. But yes, I do get your point. Those people are crude and rude. When I was a teen I worked at a Camp for ARC, I met parents whose eldest had Downs and younger children who didn't. Essentially, Downs is a crap shoot with even the most at risk being in the single digits.

    And yes, the woman is a genuine looney.


  2. I've got no problem with those who get an amnio. I respect the decision to have an abortion for such reasons, too. What they said didn't deeply offend me or anything, I was just saying that those who have that attitude are not necessarily the Jews.

    And it is a crapshoot. There's a 1 in 50,000 chance my kid would get the syndrome he has, and we're no more likely to have a kid with it again than any other couple.

    BTW, the ARC has been great for my son. We're taking him to daycare there soon! What lovely people who work there!

  3. I think your baby is beautiful, and he has a wonderful family. I'd love to see recent photos.

    I can relate to your atheism, since I was agnostic for years.