Marginalizing the ‘child-free,’ an unserved demographic

My husband and I are “child-free,” and feel increasingly marginalized in our society, where everything is geared to benefit and support “families” (defined only as people with children).

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the Jewish community, where there are no offerings for anyone between JDate and Mommy&Me.

We have little in common with 20- and 30-somethings primarily looking for mates. I am 36; my husband is 43. The only social offerings for those our age revolve around child-rearing.

Choosing not to have children is something with which we are still struggling. This is a very difficult, emotional decision — surely as complex as toilet-training.

Where are the support groups for us? We would love to connect with similarly struggling couples.

While I welcomed your April 23 “Two’s company” article, it lacked detail about coping with wannabe grandparents, losing friends to newborn children, being pushed to the margins of our communities, and the difficulty of finding other non-child-focused couples (even people with kids who can converse about more than poop and preschool).

Surely there are other child-free Jewish couples looking for support and friendship; I hope your article will prompt local Jewish organizations to take note of this unserved demographic.

Lauren Hauptman | San Francisco

Birthrate tragedy

I read your April 23 article about childless Jewish couples with sadness. As a parent of two, I was in my 30s when I got married and decided to have children.

I, too, felt I could never be “the perfect parent.” But I found I have savored every moment, even the hard times, with love and pleasure.

However, this is a decision people must make for themselves, and I’d never urge people who don’t want children to have them anyway.

The sadness for me comes when I remember a cartoon I saw in a paper in Tel Aviv. It showed two Germans, dressed in Nazi uniforms, talking to an Orthodox couple with nine children in tow. The officer asked the father, “When will you people stop having children?” The reply: “When we reach six million.”

The tragedy of decisions not to reproduce is the fact that Jews who are wealthy and educated opt out of parenthood, and the Jewish birthrate is going down annually while the birthrate among others is rising.

Jews have been around for thousands of years, and it would be comforting to know that this will continue in the future. Today, I am not so sure.

Allyson Rowen Taylor | Los Angeles

Memory game?

Over 55 but not yet using a walker, cane, or sitting in a rocking chair for extended periods of time, I found the concept of HurryDate (the four-minute dating program) both amusing and distressing (April 23 j.).

If that’s one way for younger Jewish adults to meet, I wonder what aging baby boomers are supposed to do.

If we were to be involved in this kind of event, would we shuffle from one chair to another to meet as many people of the opposite sex as quickly as possible?

The real game for us would be how much we actually could remember in four minutes. The idea seems hilarious to me.

Nancy Kron | Kensington


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s appeal for a matchmaking bureau in every community sounds nice, but it ignores the question of how this is going to fix the social problems he so clearly defines in his March 19 j. opinion.

If private matchmaking services, SpeedDating, singles events, rabbis, work acquaintances and everyone’s Aunt Barbara have been unable to prevent men from marrying out of the community in larger numbers than women (is that still true?), or convince 40-year-old men to date women their own age, just how is a community-sanctioned matchmaker going to do so — blackmail?

Maybe we should fund programs to help address the Jewish community’s problems with sexism before we establish a community organization to fix up (or just “fix”) the straight single women in the community.

Charlotte Honigman-Smith | San Francisco

Billboard mistake

Jonathan Carey, BlueStar founder, was mistaken in not running the burning bus billboard (April 2 j.).

Terrorism is a daily reality in Israel, destroying lives and families, leaving survivors mutilated, affecting daily decisions (such as shopping, going to work, taking any bus and eating out), influencing government decisions and actions, ruining a once-thriving economy, and much more.

Instead of avoiding it, we should “enflame the middle.” The news media show victims of other terrorist atrocities: the train bombing in Spain, the burned and mutilated bodies in Iraq, and others. Why is it that when Israelis are involved, no one wants to offend anyone’s sensibilities?

The public should be made equally aware, if not more so, that Israelis are terrorist victims, too. For too long, the media shy away from Israeli suffering.

The bland poster BlueStar chose is totally unconvincing of anything. Two female Israeli soldiers in uniform will not convince anyone that “Israelis Are Just Like You.”

They aren’t, anyway. They are under a cloud of constant fear of imminent disaster.

It is past time for “reality posters” and past time to “enflame the middle.” The terrorist supporters do just that all the time, even in San Francisco.

Lawrence M. Weiswasser | Avenal

‘Depth and wisdom’

I’ve been enjoying Dan Pine’s column for some time now, but was particularly moved by his comments on a singing universe. Thanks for adding such depth and wisdom to my life, and for doing it with such grace.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson | Bel Air
dean, Ziegler School of Religious Studies
vice president, University of Judaism

Emigre changes

It was very interesting to read a lot of successful stories (April 16 j.) from people who received help from JVS. One of them was Edward Sankin, a former pediatrician who turned embalmer at San Francisco Sinai Memorial Chapel.

He wanted to become a doctor, but he didn’t speak English 10 or 15 years ago.

I know it was not easy to change himself from doctor to embalmer. I know that it isn’t easy to get licensed.

I was a musician in my native Ukraine. When I came to this country, I didn’t speak English. The same thing happened to me.

I used to work as a salesperson at a Noah’s Bagels store in San Francisco. But I decided to become a funeral director and embalmer like Sankin.

Paul Shkuratov | San Francisco

Altered military plans

A recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency article quoted Elan Steinberg of the World Jewish Congress criticizing the Allies for not bombing Auschwitz in 1944, when their planes flew overhead.

It also quoted British author William Rubinstein, harshly criticizing Steinberg and defending the Allies’ policy on the grounds that “No one was realistically going to divert resources at that crucial time.”

But the Allies did divert resources and alter military plans because of non-military considerations — just not to save Jews.

A U.S. Air Force plan to bomb Kyoto (in Japan) was blocked by Secretary of War Henry Stimson because of the city’s artistic treasures. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy — who rejected pleas to bomb Auschwitz — diverted bombers from striking the German city of Rothenburg because of its famous medieval architecture. General George Patton even diverted U.S. troops to rescue 150 prized Lipizzaner horses in Austria.

Perhaps the Zionist leader Rabbi Meyer Berlin was correct when he said to U.S. Sen. Robert Wagner, in 1943, that “if horses were being slaughtered as are the Jews of Poland, there would by now be a loud demand for organized action against such cruelty to animals. Somehow, when it concerns Jews, everybody remains silent…”

Rafael Medoff | Melrose Park, Pa.
director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Who ‘elected’ Arafat?

About 10 years ago, Yasser Arafat was “elected” head of the Palestinian Authority. His sympathizers keep reminding us that he is the “elected” leader.

This raises the question: What is his term of office? Was he elected for five years, 10 years, 20 years, or for life, or forever, or until the end of time? Does anyone know?

Karl D. Lyon | San Francisco

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