By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
When someone from the Confederação Israelita do Brasil, a central Jewish organization, called the home of Rabbi Dovid and Sonia Elisheva Weitman, asking if they would appear on a television show about Jewish life, the couple hesitated.
They worried that a journalist with no prior knowledge of the subject might misconstrue their words. But, hearing that they were the only observant Jewish family to be featured, they agreed. After all, presenting the traditional approach to Jewish life was part of their job as Chabad Shluchim.
On the appointed day, a camera crew arrived in the Weitmans’ neighborhood and asked a child who was playing outside if he knew where it was.
Yes, he replied, it was his house, and it was a few blocks away. Soon after, they asked a young girl for directions. She replied that she, too, was a Weitman. Her house was just down the block. Arriving at the house, they saw several more children playing outside the house.
With the cameras rolling, the reporter asked the couple exactly how many children they had.
Nine, came the reply.
“Why raise such a large family?” she pressed.
“Every child is a present from G-d,” they said. “We are joyous at every gift G-d gives us.”
Close to a decade later, a woman approached Rabbi Weitman at a community gathering and said, “This is my daughter. It is because of you that she is alive.”
The rabbi was a little taken aback as he did not recognize her.
“When I was pregnant with my daughter,” she explained, “my husband and I decided that we were not ready for another child. We made an appointment for an abortion and were preparing ourselves emotionally for the procedure. The night before, we were watching television and a documentary on Jewish life came on.”
As assimilated Jews, she said, they had been interested to see how the secular media would portray them. Then the Weitman family appeared. Like the camera crew, she and her husband were initially shocked at the size of their family. But their answer about each child being a gift struck a chord.
“We looked at each other and decided right there that we would accept G-d’s gift with joy. We canceled the appointment.”