“Dovid Hamelech first validates the pain, acknowledges the suffering (whether major or trivial), and only then moves on to focusing on the merit suffering has”
Meet Their Needs [Against the Stream/Issue 817]
After reading the piece about mothers who’ve chosen out-of-the-box parenting methods for their families, I wanted to note that what Chaya Cohen said about skipping preschool really resonated with me: A four-year-old is developmentally ready for school in a way that a three-year-old is often not. I believe that some children need group stimulation at age two; other children need the safety of being with their mother until age four. As Chaya said, just because a child will get used to it and eventually stop crying isn’t a reason to put him through what is torture for him. If a mother is able to meet her child’s desire to stay home, that provides for the child’s very significant needs on every level.
A Fan of Keeping Kids Home
Jackie’s Impact [Live Life on Purpose/Issue 816]
I was so excited when I realized that the cover story was about none other than Jackie (Engel) Glaser. The article was excellent (and I loved learning about her new endeavors), but I feel it didn’t do justice to her greatness.
Jackie singlehandedly affected the journeys of thousands of Jewish young women. There was no one more motivated or dedicated to helping disconnected Jewish young women find their place in the Torah world. Any woman who became frum in the past ten to 15 years was likely impacted by her.
But even though at any given time Jackie could be working with dozens of girls, she made you feel like you were her only priority. I was connected with Jackie through a kiruv trip when I was 21 years old. At that point, I was more or less shomer mitzvos, but I was having a really tough time feeling “normal” and also frum.
About four months later, I accepted a job offer in New York and moved there at the same time that Jackie did. I was overwhelmed and lost, and Jackie honed in on my needs right away. She connected me to a fabulous living opportunity in Passaic and the incredible learning program, Souled.
Both joining the program and the living arrangement in Passaic were the best things that could have happened for my Yiddishkeit. Thanks to Jackie, I found a community, lifelong friends, and a solid Torah foundation.
After a year in New York, I packed my bags and headed to seminary, something that Jackie always insisted would be great for me. She was right! I gained a tremendous amount from seminary, and four months after arriving, I was set up with my husband. Today, baruch Hashem, I’m married with three young children and live a beautiful Torah life in a young and growing community in Eretz Yisrael. So, here’s to Jackie — an amazing and inspiring woman who has helped shape the lives of countless baalei teshuvah. Thank you for everything!
Ramat Beit Shemesh
First Validate the Pain [Spirit and Sparks/Issue 816]
Thank you, Baila Vorhand, for your golden nuggets that “Spirit and Sparks” adds to my life. They’re always relevant, interesting, and inspiring.
I wanted to add to what Devory M. shared, how when she is facing frustration or disappointment, she’s learned to first empathize with herself, and that led to “the message of bashert clicking in.”
Some years ago, an acquaintance shared with me that when something goes wrong, we should say pasuk 18 from Tehillim 25, which says, “See my afflictions and my toil and forgive all my sins” (ArtScroll translation). I find saying this pasuk is so much more uplifting than the response we’re taught to say in kindergarten: Gam zu l’tovah, for the very reason Devory explained. Dovid Hamelech first validates the pain, acknowledges the suffering (whether major or trivial), and only then moves on to focusing on the merit suffering has — namely, that it should be a kapparah for our aveiros.
Just One Word [My Mother Always Told Me/Issue 813]
While rereading your very touching and enlightening feature, “My Mother Always Told Me,” I thought of the life-changing word of advice my late mother gave me — and I do mean “word” — and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it with others.
I’m now a great-great-grandmother, baruch Hashem, but back then I was a frightened 25-year-old. My mother had come from Brooklyn to Atlanta for a month to help me after the birth of our third child, only 11 months after the birth of our second child, who was only 15 months younger than our oldest.
With three children under three, my mother and I literally had our hands full. But ultimately, she had to return to her own home. As she stood in the doorway, suitcase in hand, and kissed me goodbye, I cried, “Mommy, please don’t leave me. What am I going to do if they all cry at once?”
Smiling, she waved her arms in the iconic manner of someone leading an orchestra, and said, “Conduct!”
I burst out laughing and haven’t stopped laughing since. I couldn’t take the bawling and crying that ensued in the following months and years seriously again. That one word saw me through everything and has helped every young mother with whom I’ve shared it with over the years.
So, unless something is very obviously and seriously wrong, remember: “Conduct!”
Estelle Samber Feldman
Thank you to the many readers who shared letters of gratitude and good wishes for Bassi Gruen; they have all been forwarded to her and are greatly appreciated.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 818)
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