The routine is always the same. The kids have had an afternoon snack, the baby’s finished his bottle. I settle them with the Duplo and take out my siddur.

As I turn to the wall, I allow myself to hope. Maybe today I’ll get through Shemoneh Esreh without rushing through it to attend to tears, broken towers, lost pacifier. Maybe.

But it seems that opening my siddur is a special segulah to trip off arguments, scraped knees, and calls of “Moooooommmmy.”

Inevitably, I close my siddur, frustrated. There was a time in my life — and it wasn’t so long ago — when I would daven three times a day for as long as I wanted. Baruch Hashem for my adorable kids. I know my lines…

But then I think back to the day I met Sivan.

I was 18, it was during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, and I was standing at the station on Rechov Yaffa, waiting for the train to take me to the Kosel. I’d always traveled to the Kosel by bus; I’d never done the train-walk route, and I was unsure of the way. I turned to a girl who was smoking near me and asked her if she had any idea of how to get to the Kosel. She took another puff of smoke. “No.”

Another moment passed, and I noticed her torn jeans, multiple piercings, and the tattoo that snaked up her arm. Then she spoke. “If you’re going to the Kotel can you daven for my mother? She has stomach cancer.”

I took down her mother’s name and by the time the train arrived three minutes later, Sivan and I were schmoozing away. She told me that her mother was in the hospital, her father was a bus driver who had missed too many days of work because of her mother’s illness.

She was one of four kids. Two were married, and were helping to support the family. She worked long hours as a security guard to give her father her salary at the end of the month.

Sivan and I kept in touch, and became good friends, though when we walk together — frum woman and secular girl — some stares are thrown in our direction. Over the years, I’ve realized that often, Sivan is more connected than me.

In 2014, when Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped, I davened, shed tears, gave tzedakah, and hoped. But Sivan kept Shabbos for the first time. Afraid to be inside, in case she turned on a light, switched on the TV, or answered her cell phone, she spent the whole day outside, until she counted three stars.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 612)