Woman Dies, Leaves Behind 2,000 Descendants

Yitta Schwartz of Kiryas Joel, New York, died last month at the age of 93. She left behind 15 children, more than 200 grandchildren, and so many great and great-great grandchildren that her family guesses that she could claim 2,000 direct descendants. In The New York Times, Joseph Berger writes:

Mrs. Schwartz was a member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, whose couples have nine children on average and whose ranks of descendants can multiply exponentially. But even among Satmars, the size of Mrs. Schwartz’s family is astonishing. A round-faced woman with a high-voltage smile, she may have generated one of the largest clans of any survivor of the Holocaust — a thumb in the eye of the Nazis.[...]

She was born in 1916 into a family of seven children in the Hungarian village of Kalev, revered as the hometown of a founder of Hungarian Hasidism. During World War II, the Nazis sent Mrs. Schwartz, her husband, Joseph, and the six children they had at the time to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[...]

With so many children, Mrs. Schwartz had to make six loaves of challah for every Sabbath, using 12 pounds of dough — in later years, she was aided by Kitchenaid or Hobart appliances. (Mrs. Mayer said her mother had weaknesses for modern conveniences, and for elegant head scarves.) For her children’s weddings, Mrs. Schwartz starched the tablecloths and baked the chocolate babkas and napoleons.

Link via Marginal Revolution | Photo: New York Times

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While I am Jewish, I'm not quite as observant as the Chasidic Jews. I used to live near Kiryas Joel and saw many of these folks around, especially walking on the side of the road come Saturdays.

For the most part I say more power to 'em; as Americans we should all have the right to observe as we wish (as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's observances IMHO). That being said, I always kind of wish the Satmar and other Chasidic folks weren't quite so insular. You see, while she may have 200 grandkids and 2,000 grandkids, I guarantee a disproportionate number are handicapped. Because they are expected to have tons of kids, but are not supposed to marry outside the faith, the breeding pool is kinda small. And those poor kids pay the price.
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First, free will- and with it man's ability to violate god's laws and desires- is central to all the religions of the book. Otherwise, sin is impossible, and man would never have been cast out of the garden. I am in no way religious myself, but anyone who has though about it must realize that if god exists and is good, either there is a limit to his power, or a limit to the ways in which he chooses to use that power.

And second, unlike religion or culture, homosexuality is not a learned thing. Homosexual offspring are the normal result of some fraction of heterosexual unions in any culture, and so there is no need to actively regenerate the homosexual population; it will take care of itself in time. If all the jews were killed, though, it is unlikely that many would convert to judaism thereafter.
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