My friend Batya gave birth last year to a little boy. They named him Aaron.

Aaron will probably never be a great scholar. He won’t even be a mediocre scholar.

Hopefully, he will learn to keep himself presentable, he will learn manners, he may even hold down some kind of job. However, he will love, and he will be beloved. Aaron, you see, has Down syndrome.

SheAaron will never be a great scholar, not even a mediocre one brought him home to her house full of children, and a few days later, the social worker called. The conversation went something like this:

Social worker: So, um, how is everything going?

Batya: Fine. You know, I’m after birth and all.

SW: Right. So do you think you will manage with him?

Batya: Well, I’m sure it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll work it out.

SW: So, you mean you think you’ll, um, keep him?

Batya: What do you mean? What else would I do with him? He’s my child.

SW: Well. Some people choose to give these children up for adoption because it’s difficult to raise them.

Batya: Really? Listen, if I thought about adoption for every kid that was difficult, I’d have a few more to send back before I send this one back ...

One of Batya’s other children was not doing so well in school. She tried to encourage him by telling him that she loved him, and hopefully, that he would do the best he was able.

He surprised her with this comment: “I see that you love Aaron, even though he won’t become anything great. I guess that means that you love all us for who we are, and not for what we might achieve.”

That Purim, they dressed Aaron as an “Up Syndrome,” with all kinds of arrows attached to his clothes, pointing up.

It is well known that great men would stand up out of respect for people with Down syndrome. The soul of such a person is very refined. And yet, there are those who choose not to accept this challenge.

A woman named Sara was expecting twins and had to be in the hospital because of the high-risk pregnancy. One day, Sara was sitting with Irit, another patient. Rivka sat down next to them. Rivka had given birth to twins, but one of them died a few days after birth. Both Sara and Irit expressed sympathy for the loss of the child.

“Yes,” replied Rivka. “It was very hard. We knew that theIn Iceland, there is a museum of Down syndrome baby was not being properly nourished inside the womb, so we went to our rabbi to seek advice. He said that we could either abort it, or that it would die a few days after birth,” Rivka continued. “We chose to wait, in order to bring another soul into the world.”

Suddenly, Irit began to cry. “My doctors told me that I had a baby with Down syndrome inside. I just aborted without talking to anyone!” She continued, “You are lucky that you have mentors to speak to. Now I have such a terrible conscience. I don’t know at all if I did the right thing!”

In Iceland, there was recently a museum exhibit with pictures of boys, girls, men and women—all with Down syndrome. There are almost no actual people with Down syndrome left in Iceland because of prenatal screening and the high number of pregnancies that are then terminated. They needed a museum to commemorate an extinct phenomenon.

It certainly has its challenges, but Batya will not give up the opportunity to raise Aaron. His brothers and sisters are part of the venture. When Batya came back from the hospital after giving birth, her children had hung up a sign on her door: “Mazal Tov! We have our ups and Downs ... ”