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Bayla Sheva 


At long last, Zoe! Welcome. And now we are three. :) Thank you for sharing your poem, rich with moving imagery. I intend to read it again. Also, I never before thought about the fact that there are two parts of the mitzvah - pru urevu - be fruitful and multiply. There are no extra words in the Torah, so this means something. Very interesting; I'll have to look into this. Good chop!

Recently, during a very down period over my childlessness, I turned to a mentor, a rabbi whom I found of invaluable support and encouragement during my single years. The exchange motivated me to ask Hashem to reveal my purpose(s) in this world and help me fulfill them with joy. I'm also working harder at directing my unique nurturing strengths towards my husband and others in my life - to see them, think about them, interact with them with a more cognizant sense of love, rather than judgement or dissappointment, which most likely stems from an undercurrent of feeling "deprived of." I'm learning thank G-d to let that go more and more. And if I'm triggered by another "mazel tov" towards another, I accept the pain as normal and am careful to steer it away from attaching itself to any hint of anger, which only leads to my emotional and spiritual unravelling for sure!

Looking forward to hearing more from you Anna and Zoe. Wishing you both a beautiful day tomorrow. Kol tuv, Bayla Sheva



What a wonderful website, brilliant. I hope it gets the widespread attention it deserves and helps to form community. I have always been inspired thinking that the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply" is actually two commandments, and being fruitful is different from multiplying. Multiplying may be about biology, but being fruitful takes one's whole self. It is about being a creative contributor in the world. There are a lot of people who multiply and aren't very fruitful. In Jeremiah Chapter 29 the prophet writes a letter to the exiles in Babylonia telling them to "multiply," but he leaves off the "fruitful." Perhaps it is because he didn't believe in their sadness the exiles could be truly fruitful. But Jeremiah didn't multiply (although some midrashim suggest he fathered Ben Sera); however, he was incredibly fruitful. I wrote a poem from the perspective of a woman in love with Jeremiah in which she says to him:

We will be patriarch of vision, matriarch of dream.

Every now and then, a person catches a glimpse of himself in a pool, and does not recognize his own face in the reflection. Sometimes, a person does not recognize her entire life. In their minds, they are living another life. A life of luxuries that never existed. A life of love that is never expressed. A life of daring, a life that never surfaces, but is kept jailed inside by a name: daughter of, father of... or by a label: wife of, servant of. Inside the merchant is a sailor. Inside the slave is a scribe. Inside every person is a laughing, sprightly wish, an acrobat who swings from the clouds. These will be our offspring, Jeremiah, every one.

One day, be sure,

they will peck and push their way out of their shells,

roll into the light with their heads wobbling on little necks,

gasp air, blink,

and dry off,

and suddenly,

every single one will come to be.

The membrane that covers the world will dissolve,

and every one will be fantasy,

creative and chaotic,

spiraling upward in windstorms of color,

in chiming collisions.

On that day, the hosts of angels will look upon us

as a source of immeasurable joy.

Bayla Sheva  


I guess I'll take the second plunge. I've been hoping to find a support group to share with others who truly understand the nisayon Hashem gave us to grow from. I live in a bli ayin hara VERY fertile neighborhood. I'm talking 10 to 12 children per family (one of those families living just below us). One day I decided to befriend all the kids. I filled my cabinet with goodies and one by one, the adorable fish began to bite. I've had them over for Shabbos and they call to me when I walk out of my home and sometimes they run into my hungry arms. But, they are someone else's sons and daughters and will be tucked in by their own Mommies and Tatties. I hear them singing zemiros together and I try to enjoy the beautiful sounds. Sukkos, when the homes are outdoors surrounding our own sukkah is particularly challenging. As the daughter of Holocaust survivors and the only frum offspring, a profound ache. I married later in life and my husband has children from a previous marriage (a parsha in and of itself that I want very much to talk about with others in that particular situation). Enough said for now. I'd love to hear of all your journeys out there. Sending a warm smile to each precious sister, Bayla Sheva

Anna Olswanger 


As the creator of this website, I'll take the plunge and post the first message in the Forum.

When my father he died in 1981, I lost not only him, but the stories he had told about his childhood in Memphis as the son of Jewish immigrants. I started genealogy research to learn more about his parents and grandparents, who had died before I was born. I visited St. Louis where they lived when they came to the U.S. and began to discover the ancestors I never knew. One of the documents I uncovered in my research was a Yiddish newspaper article about the attempted robbery of my great-grandfather’s kosher saloon. Not long afterwards, I began to write children's books and decided that I would capture the story of the attempted robbery in the pages of a children's book. That became Shlemiel Crooks, which the Association of Jewish Libraries later named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book, and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation named a PJ Library Book.

One of my sadnesses as a childless Jew is that I have no children to share my family's stories with. But I've decided that when any adult, a parent or teacher, reads Shlemiel Crooks to a child, it is as though I get to share my family's stories with that child. I find comfort in that.

Perhaps other childless Jews would find comfort in sharing their family stories in the form of children's books.

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