How Foster Care Saved a Civilization | Nations’ 9th of Av

Memorial of Sir Nicholas Winton savior of 669 Jewish children from former Czechoslovakia. This memorial, dedicated in 2009, is located in Prague Main railway station. (Luděk Kovář –, sculptor Flor Kent / CC BY-SA,

Here’s a powerful word of wisdom from the Bible:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22 TLV)

Let’s set aside that part about sinners and righteous for the moment and focus on the first part – the part about a good man leaving an inheritance for his grandchildren. What is the primary requirement for that to happen? It should be obvious: there can be no inheritance if there is no man, good or bad, to leave it. Of course, this is just as applicable to good women, especially to the courageous single mothers striving to make ends meet while playing the roles of both parents. For them it is immeasurably more difficult than for families where both parents contribute to the welfare of their children and grandchildren.

Suffice it to say that with no parents, or with only one parent, it’s highly unlikely that much of anything will be passed on to the rising generations, except perhaps the pain of rootlessness. It’s bad enough if we are discussing one family, or even a segment of society. For example, in the United States, about 20 million children – one in four – live in a home without a father.[1] The percentage is much higher among African American, Native American, and Hispanic children, even as high as 65% or more.[2] Yet even as tragic as those figures indicate, there is still hope simply because a large part of the society consists of intact families that, at least in theory, can help those in need.

But what if there are no intact families? What if an entire population of adults ceases to exist, leaving their children without care and guidance? Can you imagine it? That would be an entire generation –

    • of brides who would never be given away in marriage by their fathers.
    • of young men who would never know the approval of their fathers as they enter professions and begin families of their own.
    • of children who would never hear the stories of their grandparents.
    • of young people who would not know their own history – where they came from, who their people were, what special things they created, how they talked and sang and laughed.

Can you imagine such an unspeakable tragedy?

I can. It has happened too often in human history. Ask me about the Pequod nation of Connecticut, or the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, or the mixed African peoples thrown on unfamiliar shores as slaves in the West Indies and North America. But there is a more immediate example.

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[1] These are the numbers as of 2017, according to the Census Bureau as referenced by the National Fatherhood Initiative (

[2] According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center, the percentages of children in single-parent homes in 2018 was 65% for African Americans, 53% for American Indians, 41% for Hispanic or Latino, 40% for mixed race children, 24% for non-Hispanic White, and 155 for Asian and Pacific Islander. The national average in 2018 was 35%, or 23,980,000 of all the children in the United States (,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431).

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