Hassidic Woman in Israel Gives Birth at age 65

I loved the coverage offered by The Jewish Press, a Brooklyn-based strictly-Orthodox newspaper, that headlined its story about an Israeli ultra-Orthodox woman, aged 65, who gave birth to her first child this week:  

"Mazal Tov to 65-Year-old Mother of 'Illegal' Baby."

Israeli reproductive clinics do not generally offer free IVF treatments to women over 45 – hence the "illegal" in the headline.

The original reports appeared in the Israel Hayom and Yediot tabloids and has now been widely disseminated. So I am assuming it is true.

The woman has been identified as Hana Shahar. She is said to have given birth to the 5.9-pound boy after a C-section at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

Shahar had been unable to conceive throughout her 45-year-long marriage.

Her husband's name did not appear in the news coverage other than the first initial of his name -- "shin."

According to Yediot, Hana was married at age 19 (Shin was 21) and she is the oldest woman to give birth in Israel. Hana is a member of the "Nadborana" hassidic dynasty which stems from Hungary and Romania.

Friends credit the intervention of the previous rebbe ("Ha'bo'er Yaakov") with facilitating the miracle by giving the woman a special blessing. The current rebbe is said to be on a pilgrimage in the Ukraine.

Members of the community donated the eggs which were fertilized. It is not clear  if the sperm belonged to the husband though given  that members of the community probably inter-marry my hunch is the sperm donor is very much an outsider.

The story beautifully illustrates the lengths Jewish couples – especially Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox ones—will go to bring a child into the world. 

Not sure what happens to an infant whose parents are already of retirement age. But given that the child is part of a large, tight knit, nurturing community – I expect he will be widely cherished.

"We do not recommend this," Tal Biron, an obstetrician/ gynecologist at the Kfar Saba hospital told reporters.

"It is illegal to perform in-vitro fertilization on a woman of this age, and it is dangerous," she said. "There are many possible complications. Pregnancy is an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body."

The mystery of where the IVF was performed and by whom is unlikely to be solved any time soon.


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