“Conceiving God’s Children”: Toward a Flexible Model of Reproductive Decision-Making

Lea Taragin-Zeller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Drawing on an ethnographic study of reproduction in Israel, in this article I demonstrate how Orthodox Jews delineate borders between the godly and the human in their daily reproductive practices. Exploring the multiple ways access to technology affects religious belief and observance, I describe three approaches to marital birth control, two of which are antithetical: steadfast resistance to and general acceptance of “calculated family planning.” Seeking a middle road, the third model, “flexible decision-making,” reveals how couples push off and welcome pregnancies simultaneously. Unravelling the illusion of a binary model of planned/unplanned parenthood, I call for nuanced models of reproductive decision-making.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)370-383
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Israel
  • Judaism
  • contraception
  • decision-making
  • religion
  • reproduction


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