Sabbath birth puts infant’s life in jeopardy

FROM time to time, bizarre reports surface about the activities – or rather, the non-activities – of Orthodox Jews on the Sabbath. But this one takes the bagel.

Having vowed not to speak on Saturdays, a woman in Jerusalem kept schtum about a baby she’d just given birth to.

According to this report, she secreted the infant under her dress with the umbilical cord still attached, hid the placenta in a bag, and refused to speak to anyone including paramedics.

No one knew that the baby had been born until the woman’s concerned husband went to a local Jerusalem synagogue, and asked the rabbi for a blessing.

When the rabbi asked why, he said his wife had given birth and was sitting at home with the baby, according to paramedic Ariel Atias.

The rabbi called Hatzalah emergency medical services and paramedics showed up to help take the baby and mother to the hospital. But they met with resistance, said another paramedic Yoni Hacohen.

The couple was sitting in the bedroom and wouldn’t let us into the room. I thought it was due to modesty, so I asked a female paramedic to go in there and send the father out. But a few minutes later she came out and said the woman wouldn’t communicate with her in any way. Nor would she allow them to see the baby, who was still hidden under her dress.

Eventually some neighbours suggested a rabbinical tribunal be formed to relieve the woman of her vow, but even after that she refused to speak or communicate.

Two hours later police and rescue teams had to restrain the woman. The umbilical chord was cut and both mother and baby were rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Atias said:

It’s a miracle the baby is safe and healthy. The incident could have ended badly.

By the time they reached the hospital, Shabbat had ended and the woman had resumed speaking.

Hat tip: Bill Murray