ABC's Simon McGregor-Wood reports from Jerusalem:
Rachel Krishevsky was 19 when she married her cousin Yitzik from within the ultra orthodox Haredi community in Jerusalem. The young couple then set about following the Jewish commandment to be “fruitful and multiply.” And they certainly succeeded.
By the time she passed away last Saturday in Jerusalem aged 99, Rachel had according to her family, no less than 1,400 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren. She and her husband had seven boys and four daughters. Among the ultra orthodox jewish community large families are seen as a blessing. Each of their 11 children followed in Rachel’s footsteps, resulting in 150 grandchildren. In turn these descendants had 1,000 children of their own and in the last few years several hundred great-great-grandchildren started to appear.
According to one unnamed grandchild Wednesday, “grandma knew all of her descendants by name.”
Despite such a fruitful life members of Rachel’s huge family said they felt great sadness at her passing.
“Grandma was a God-fearing woman her whole life, and her door was always open to the homeless and poor near the market. We are sad about her death, but proud of what she achieved in her life,” said another grandchild.
Mrs Krishevsky lived near the Mahane Yehuda market in West Jerusalem and was a well known local figure. The area is a center for the strictly orthodox sects of Judaism, most of which follow the tradition of having large families. In recent years the demographic mix of the city’s population has been changing as a result.
According to the Israeli daily paper Yedioth Aharanot, Rachel Krishevsky’s achievement although remarkable was not record breaking.
The paper claims at least two local people are known to have great-great-great-great-grandchildren. And one senior rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, recently celebrated the birth of his great-great-great-grandchild’s first child.