The Pressures and Joys of the Rabbinic First Family

Although there are less paparazzi, the children of the Rabbi and Rebbetzin share many similarities with the children in the White House. In some ways it’s harder because observant Jewish communities are more close-knit than their secular counterparts, so the kids are more in the public eye.

My daughter has a close friend who is a Rabbi’s daughter and she related that it wasn’t always easy growing up in that environment. There’s a pressure to come to Shul every Shabbos with the Rebbetzin, even though womens on-time attendance is not normative in our communities on Shabbos. In Shul, you have to behave well, dress well and daven well on an ongoing basis. Like the Rebbetzin, you usually have to be available for conversation after Shul.

Although sons have the same davening pressures, men’s dress is less of an issue and boys have a wider range of acceptable behavior. Sons can even get away with coming in late, although there certainly will be members who will give them a joking hard time about this. If they have good voices, they will probably be pressured to daven from the Amud more than the average member. The son-in-laws have the additional pressure of being thrust into this public eye with out much runway to get comfortable with the situation.

From the member’s point of view, it’s great watching the kids grow up, from the bris, to the cute stage, through the bar/bat mitzvah, and on to the Chupah, Chasanah and parenthood. My observation is that many members have special relationships with the Rabbi and Rebbetzin’s kids because of these shared joyous experiences. In our Shul, one of the sons is the Rabbi’s gabbai, further enhancing the building of tight relationships.

And then there are the really special occasions, like the one that occurred this week, when the Rabbi and Rebbetzin’s son and daughter-in-law were blessed with the birth of healthy triplets (2 girls and 1 boy). With a shared excitement, joy and gratitude the entire Shul wishes the entire First Family a tremendous Mazal Tov on this wondrous occasion.