| Family First Inbox |

Family First Inbox: Issue 817

“We can spare people tremendous heartache if we think before asking questions”

On Traumas [Facing a New Day / Issue 815]

It was so sad to read your feature about people who suffer a trauma that is accompanied by shame. These people have suffered so much, and then added to their pain is the embarrassment and guilt from people’s judgment.

I know trauma quite well and can relate to such pain. Due to emotional neglect, I suffer from unhealthy attachments. This is through no fault of my own, yet I face a world of judgment that makes my healing so much harder. On the outside it seems like I’m accomplished and have lots of friends, but on the inside, my work with my trauma therapist is like cleansing a wound with hydrogen peroxide. It burns and is an exhausting, full-time job. There are layers to peel off so I can reach the place I’ve dreamed of my whole life: marriage.

Sometimes I feel my friends want to keep a safe distance from me, and that hurts. I so appreciated the dos and don’ts in this feature. My friends don’t understand the value of their reaching out with meal invites, good Shabbos calls, or a half-hour coffee get-together. It’s these little things that mean the world!

I can be contacted through Mishpacha.

Name Withheld


Just Don’t Ask [Facing a New Day / Issue 815]

My heart goes out to each of the women featured in the article about trauma that comes with shame. A common factor exacerbating the pain felt in each one of these situations was the questions that people asked. People mean well; nobody wants to hurt people. But it’s so important to think before we speak.

I took a middos class years ago with a fabulous teacher, and it made a tremendous impact in my life. When she taught us about curiosity, she said it’s not good to be curious and ask too many questions. You don’t need to know everything!

We can spare people tremendous heartache if we think before asking questions. And this approach shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for trauma situations — in general, let’s stay neutral, and try not to pry into other people’s lives.

May we be zocheh to the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days, when there will be no more pain!

Miriam Berkowitz


Kugel Power [Lifetakes / Issue 815]

I really appreciated Leah Wachsler’s Lifetakes about how she discovered the power of potato kugel. My Bubby Ruthy used to make potato kugel. She lovingly grated each potato by hand on her reebizen and baked it in a pan to perfection. Zeidy Jack would bring his friends home from shul in East New York for a l’chayim and a piece of delicious potato kugel every Shabbos.

I learned how to make potato kugel, too. I’m grateful for my food processor, though, which makes the preparation easy, and disposable pans work for me. I also learned early on that my potato kugel was never going to make it to Shabbos because I was blessed with a full house!

An hour before Shabbos, it’s “kugel time” in our house. We enjoy hot kugel right out of the oven on the deck or in the kitchen.

One Friday this summer, my food processor broke. I could have nixed potato kugel that week, but I didn’t. I lovingly took out my grandmother’s reebizen and grated five pounds of potato kugel by hand because I can’t think of a better way to greet the Shabbos than “kugel time” enjoyed by all!

Carol Trachtenberg


Let’s Leave Guilt Behind [Inbox / Issue 815]

I’ve been reading with great interest the discussion about the inherent harm or value in guilt.

The women of JWOW! (Jewish Women of Wisdom) — including myself — have hopefully learned by now that guilt accomplishes very little. It drags us down. Saps the joy out of us. Guilt leaves us mired in the past. We work on being forward-looking. We aim to grow, accumulating insight and wisdom through the process.

I’ve long been a student of Dr. Miriam Adahan. I often think of one of her major teachings, and am happy to share it with others. Rather than feel guilty, I would realize that I’m doing the best I can, under those particular circumstances, with the tools I have at that very moment at my disposal. I would share this approach with the offended party, hoping to explain myself, enabling all relevant parties to move upward and onward, to move beyond.

Life is too short to spend engulfed in guilt and other negative feelings. Let’s share the wisdom, the insights, the encouragement and inspiration! Our motto: Connect. Communicate. Grow!

Miriam Liebermann, MSW


Choosing to Live OOT [Inbox / Issue 814]

I found the letter “Worth the Drive,” about living out of town, interesting to read, and could relate to some of her points about the benefits and difficulties of living out of town. I was disappointed, however, to see the letter writer’s reasons for living out of town, as the main and most important reason seemed to have been left out.

For us, it was a proactive choice to live out of town, as opposed to the default choice that seems to be described in her letter. The main reason we are choosing to raise our kids out of town is the warmth of belonging to a close-knit Torah community and the major benefits of living in such a place. While we’re happy that the cost of living is lower here than that of New York City, that’s just a side benefit, as opposed to the main reason we choose to be here.

C.S., East Meadow


I’m Not Alone [Family First]

Thank you so, so much for all the pieces surrounding mental health and the related challenges that you’ve featured recently. I know that you get backlash for it, and I so appreciate that (doubtless with the approval of your rabbinical board) you keep providing this content.

Being one of the very few people who is aware of the acute mental health challenges of a close friend, the isolation I feel can sometimes be overpowering. As far as I’m aware, there’s no support group for “frum friends of those struggling with mental illness who can’t share any details about the situation because it isn’t their secret to share.”

When I’m able to sit down on Shabbos after whatever new difficult feeling the week has brought, and share in the pain of other Yidden going through similar challenges, some of whom are sharing light from the other end of the tunnel and some of whom are still bravely battling on, it reminds me that I’m not alone — and it gives me the strength to keep giving to my friend from a whole place, even if it hurts, just like my sisters out there in Klal Yisrael keep finding the strength to do.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all you courageous writers and to the publishers.

Davening for the day when somehow, it will finally all make sense,

Anonymous (though I wish I didn’t have to be)


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 817)

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