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Grow Winnipeg Campaign

By Rabbi Avrohom Altein, November 12, 2010

This Shabbat we read in the Torah about Jacob's marriages and of how he builds his family. Jacob's wives are the Matriarchs of the Jewish People; we look up to them with admiration and reverence. Jacob and his wives were blessed with 13 children-twelve sons and one daughter. These twelve sons became the leaders and founders of the twelve Shevatim, the twelve family divisions of the Jewish Nation.
It is interesting to note the tremendous enthusiasm that our ancestors had towards bearing children. We read in the Torah of how the Matriarchs competed with each other for the privilege of giving birth to another child. Each individual child was a delight and a blessing to them.
This narrative conveys an all-important message to us in today's world. Today, many people are obsessed with a fear of large families. Every child is considered a burden. One must be willing to give-up life's pleasures and comforts for the sake of caring for one's children. Many people are just not prepared to do that. They are the products of a world that encourages self-centredness and material satisfaction. People then get older and are suddenly feel a void and a gnawing sense of loneliness. Often, people try to substitute the natural inborn need for bearing children, with caring for pet animals. Pets are cute but they are a very poor substitute for the joy, the preciousness, and the blessing of a real child.
Sometimes, couples do wish inwardly that they would have more children, but they hide their feelings out of shame and embarrassment for what is considered backward and not in vogue by today's standards. It is truly shameful that people would be willing to bury their true feelings and accept such a loss, just because it means facing smirks from inconsiderate people.
For Jews, there is more importance to having large families than the joy of the individual parents. We Jews have suffered a holocaust where six million of us were annihilated. We face another current spiritual onslaught of intermarriage and assimilation, where a large percentage of offspring do not identify themselves as Jews. It has been stated by statisticians that for Jews to maintain zero population growth, every couple would have to bear 4-5 children. If we want to bring the population of Jews back to where it was before the Holocaust, we would need considerably larger families.
Winnipeg's Jewish Community placed a lot of effort into the "Grow Winnipeg" campaign. In addition to attracting new families to Winnipeg, we can "grow" some more of our own, as well. This week's Torah Reading is speaking to us. It is saying, "Remember what a Jewish child is. Every child is a priceless treasure, a blessing that no money can buy, and a foundation on which to build the continuity and growth of the Jewish Nation."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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