More Sensitivity, Please…

I opened the Hamodia Prime this morning and my heart skipped a beat when I saw your article on crib death by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich. Having lost a baby girl to crib death a little over two years ago, I read anything I can on the subject, naturally.

Honestly, I was shocked and devastated at the presentation, and I have to imagine that other parents like me feel the same way.

The article was cold, insensitive and basically bashing Israeli parents for not heeding statistical studies and guidelines. For the record, my baby was nursing, slept on her back, in a cradle with a flat mattress and nothing else in it, with her blanket tucked under her arms. She’s still no longer with us.

This article was a presentation of numbers and guidelines with not a soft, sensitive word about the tragedy it is — and with very little space given to the fact that doctors and researchers, including many that I have been in touch with, still know so little about what causes crib death. Oh, and my daughter was the eighth in the family and I was still keeping to the guidelines — refuting another disgusting comment regarding the difference between first-time mothers and those with large families.

Nor am I, nor any of the other mothers I have spoken with who have gone through this gehinnom, a smoker or a drinker. It was shocking to see so much space devoted to that particular set of factors in a chareidi newspaper. Also disturbing was the implication that Israeli parents are irresponsible and thus the most afflicted by crib death, even though this heartbreak plagues every country in the world. This is how stereotypes are created.

As maaminim bnei maaminim, we believe that these neshamos were here for the exact amount of time they were supposed to be, and to fill a very specific purpose. While there is some medical knowledge and information, it is largely “rav hanistar al hagalui,” as every competent medical professional in the field will tell you. As we were told by so many Rabbanim and eminent personalities, this is from Shamayim, and the parents should not feel guilt or try to figure out where they have gone wrong. They have not.

Dr. Shatz sounds like she knows a lot — maybe too much — but before hurling numbers and accusations, especially at Israeli parents, I would wonder if she’s ever been through anything remotely as searing as this.

The token paragraph at the end about what parents may feel afterward was particularly galling, as you encapsulated into three lines what really could have been an article in and of itself. Would it have been so hard to speak to one or two parents, or perhaps a sensitive therapist, to try and couch some of the coldness of this piece? I felt like I was reading statistics about which chocolate milk was most popular in the grocery and how many people buy each flavor.

It’s not only us mothers of babies who are likely to be hurt by this; it is also our families and friends who know us and know that so much of this does not apply to us. And for those who swallow these things up like it’s Toras Moshe — they are the ones who turn up at our shivah houses and say, “Was the baby on her stomach? Did she have teddy bears in her crib? Were you nursing? Tsk, tsk, this shouldn’t have happened according to the statistics and the professionals …” And all we can do is murmur and nod and say, “You should never know from it …”

I really and truly hope that in the future you can perhaps try to think ahead if an article may be more hurtful than informative, and if perhaps it can be augmented with a personal side that could soften some of the brute statistics.

R.C., Yerushalayim

We sincerely apologize to readers who experienced anguish over this article and ask their forgiveness.

While the purpose of the article was to provide medical information, it lacked the sensitivity and level of understanding that readers expect from Hamodia.

B’ezras Hashem, going forward we will redouble our efforts to ensure that every article meets the high standards that our readers have come to expect — and deserve. – Ed.