Mutually Exclusive| January 17, 2023
They withdrew our lifeline just when we were drowning
Shifra: I feel terrible to turn you away, but we can’t run an organization without strict policies.
Chayala: My children really deserve to be pampered a bit. They also need to eat supper. Is that too much to ask for?
Heshy was on the phone with the doctor again.
“Tomorrow? What time?” He jotted some notes down on the back of a receipt. “Okay. I appreciate that. Thank you.”
I gave him a questioning look. He sighed.
“They’re… some test results weren’t great. They want to do another scan tomorrow. Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry? Ha.
I gave a shadow of a smile. It was nice that he was still trying to protect me.
“What time is the appointment?”
“Morning.” Heshy sighed; I knew what he was thinking. He’d been in for treatment the day before; he wasn’t feeling great today, and now tomorrow he’d be back in the hospital for more scans, more testing, more appointments.
More hours of waiting on hard plastic chairs in cold waiting rooms.
His diagnosis had simply put an end to regular life — a normal schedule, work, learning, family events. “Being sick is a full-time job,” Heshy had quipped to me once. It wasn’t really funny, but if we wouldn’t turn to black humor to make us laugh, I’d be crying.
At least the prognosis was hopeful. And I was busy, far too busy, to sit and worry. But things were hard. Really, really hard. Heshy wouldn’t let me take time off to sit in the hospital with him; I had my job, the kids, the house to take care of. And while my parents and siblings who lived nearby were rallying around, he was right: I didn’t have a spare second to breathe.
And now, much as I just wanted to sit and schmooze, or at least hear more about what the doctor had said, how he was feeling, what we could do… I had to go to work.
I made myself a coffee and put on a jacket. “Can I get you anything on my way home?” I offered.
He looked so down. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
Before, Heshy had left the house at the crack of dawn. Shacharis, learning, a quick breakfast, and then off to work. Now, I’d taken on more hours at my job while he was barely working.
We needed the money. But it emphasized the shift in dynamics, and it made a hard situation even harder.
I tried not to complain to Heshy. I knew how badly he wished he was the one going to work, doing all of this, taking care of the money so I could take care of the kids, the house, my part-time job. I knew that however hard it was for me that he was sick, it was much harder to be sick. But it was hard not to complain.
My work hours had doubled, and Heshy didn’t have much energy to help at home, either. The kids were anxious and not acting themselves, and I was stretching myself in a million directions to be there for them, talk to teachers, take care of everything, while running a work-shopping-laundry marathon. I hadn’t touched the stove in weeks; thank goodness my family was stepping in, and yes, we were having far too much takeout.
But quite frankly, I was close to falling apart.
came home at five p.m. to find the kids playing and Ma in the kitchen. Bless her.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said, as I glanced around the kitchen: meatballs bubbling, rice, a salad on the table. I honestly didn’t know how I’d be functioning without Ma.
“Hi, Chayala, how was your day?” Ma asked. She looked harried, and I felt bad. She was coming here almost every day to watch the kids and cook, and she still had teens of her own at home. Plus her morning job, teaching Navi in a high school. And my sisters lived nearby; they liked to come over, drop their kids off sometimes….
Ma kept telling me not to feel bad, this is what family was for, and that everyone was doing their best to be there for us. But still. Was all of this too much for her?
“Ma, sit down a minute, let me get you a drink.”
“You sit down. You just walked in from work. Did you get any sleep last night? You look exhausted.”
I was exhausted. I’d gone to bed way too late, after trying to get the house in some semblance of order, and then Ruchy had woken up at three a.m. and refused to go back to sleep for close to an hour. And Moshe was up since 6:15… you do the math.
Ma prepared two herbal teas and sat down across from me.
“Are you okay if I leave now?” she asked. “I would love to stay and help you with the kids, but…” she lowered her voice. “Ayala has a date tonight. It’s been really hard on her, running the house and everything… and I need to be there for her, clean up, you know.”
Ayala, dating, wow. It took me a minute to process that no, the world hadn’t stopped just because we were in crisis, and yes, my parents and siblings had lives to lead.
“Of course,” I said, trying to inject some confidence into my voice. “We’ll be fine. We really appreciate everything.”
Ma glanced around the room, eyes lingering on the doorway. I knew she felt so torn; she wanted to be there for us, help me with the kids, clean up, maybe throw in a load of laundry. But that’s what she’d been doing every day for the past few weeks, and it wasn’t fair to my siblings.
“Go. Really. We’re okay,” I insisted, even though I kind of felt like I was throwing away my only lifeline in a churning ocean. “And you know what? I think we’ll have enough leftovers from tonight’s supper for tomorrow, too. You should take a break. It’s hard watching the kids every day.”
“But what will you do?” Ma asked.
I shrugged. “If Heshy is up to it, he’ll watch the kids, otherwise I’ll call a neighbor… we’ll be okay.”
Ma acquiesced too easily, which only reinforced my guilty feeling that this had been too much for her. “Okay, honey, if you’re sure about that. It’s actually a big help for me, because I’ll need to cook for Shabbos, you’re moving in again, right?”
“I think so,” I said. “I’ll let you know.” Shabbos had turned into a catch-22 situation since Heshy’s diagnosis. He was weak and exhausted and hated being a guest when he was feeling like that, but I was completely overwhelmed and had no energy to do a thing.
“Maybe I’ll send you food this week instead. So you don’t have to pack up the kids and everything,” Ma said, intuiting my thoughts.
I smiled gratefully. “That would be amazing, Ma,” I said, and walked her to the door.
After she left, I rested my head in my hands and massaged small circles on my sinuses. Okay, so my mother was amazing, and she was literally saving my house, my kids, my sanity. But I couldn’t keep relying on her for every supper, every Shabbos, every afternoon of babysitting. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right.
Besides, now Ayala was dating. If she got engaged, Ma would be planning a wedding, and Ayala wouldn’t be available to run her house so Ma could come to ours….
No, it was definitely time to get some other help involved.
Much as I hated to do it, I knew what I had to do.
The woman who picked up the phone at Ezra V’Simchah sounded professional, warm, and understanding. Which still didn’t make it comfortable reaching out for help, but it definitely took the edge off things.
“Ezra V’Simchah provides meals, financial support, and guidance to families with a sick parent,” the woman — Gila? Gita? I’d been too flustered to catch the name — said reassuringly. “I’ll just take some details, and one of our representatives will call you tomorrow to see how we can help you best.”
Miri Grossman called the next morning, and her genuine warmth made tears spring to my eyes. She explained to me the meals-on-wheels options, the drop-off system, and then asked if there was anything else she could help out with.
“When we help a family out, we always try to look at the bigger picture,” she explained. “So yes, our main services are the meals and financial assistance before Yom Tov, but if there’s a family that need help with rides to the hospital, or someone to learn with their sons, and so on, we always see what we can do.”
An idea sparked in my mind. “Do you mean you could help me out with babysitting?” I asked. “I get home from work late, and my mother’s been coming every day to watch the kids, but it’s not so easy for her….”
“Tell me the hours, and I’ll see what I can do. We have a lot of volunteers,” Miri told me.
I half-expected to get a call back that they were so sorry, but it wasn’t possible to find girls available for those hours. But to my surprise, two days later Miri called to tell me that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were all organized. “There will be two high school girls coming each day, and they’ll stay to help you out after you get home as well.”
“Sounds like a dream,” I said, meaning every word.
I couldn’t wait to tell Ma.
ith Miri and the Ezra V’Simchah team in the picture, things really shifted. It was still hard — there’s nothing easy about having a spouse undergoing treatment for a serious illness — but at least on a practical level, things were falling into place. We had hot suppers delivered nightly, babysitters most afternoons, and Miri checked in regularly, fast becoming my primary source of support. She’d gone through something similar, and I felt like she really understood me and the entire situation.
Ma was grateful, too. She would never have said anything to me, but the daily babysitting-supper marathon had been taking its toll. She was doing it all for my kids, cleaning up my house, and then rushing home to do it all over again for her own family.
And Ayala was going on her fifth date already. Things were looking serious, and her attention — and Ma’s too — was definitely elsewhere these days.
“You should join the WSW email group,” Miri told me one day. “Wives supporting wives. You heard of it? It’s for women whose husbands are sick. There’s a lot of chizuk, schmoozing,people posting resources….”
I wasn’t so into these things — I value my privacy, I don’t love the idea of discussing my personal challenges in a group forum — but I signed up anyway just to check it out.
Anyone else going to the Chasdei Ahuva midwinter thing? someone posted, the first night after I joined the chat.
There was a flurry of emails in response: a few women wrote yes!! and there was one raised-hand emoji. Did registration close yet? one woman replied.
Intrigued, I emailed the original poster privately. Hi, this is Chayala Kraus, I’m on the WSW email group. I’ve never heard of the midwinter program you mentioned, can you fill me in?
A few minutes later, I got a reply: Sure. Can you call me? along with a phone number.
I called, feeling a little shy, but the woman — her name was Shayna — quickly put me at ease. In fact, she spoke so much — and so fast — that I barely had to say a word. “Hi! Oh, my goodness! You must sign up! Okay, wait, let me fill you in. So you’ve heard of Chasdei Ahuva?” she paused for a millisecond, then rattled on. “It’s this, like, maaaajor organization for families with a sick parent. They do a ton of stuff for the kids. Take them out, send gifts, toys, you name it! And then there’s twice a year this crazy, crazy, crazy four-day getaway in like the most fancy resorts… with a whole program, like winter sports and food and swimming pools and spas and gifts — you can’t even imagine. So they’re like, really selective about who is allowed to join because obviously, they’re totally overbooked, but it’s basically if the spouse is currently in treatment and there are a certain number of kids — I think three or more — and the kids are school age — I think? — but you can call up and ask them. Call Shifra, I’ll send you her number. She’s a doll!”
A few minutes, I received a text with a contact card — Shifra midwinter trips!!!!! — and then Shayna called me again.
“Hi! Listen, I forgot to mention — they have this program called Shabbos Treats where they send these little gifts to all the families signed up to their services. Every week is something different. Sometimes a cake, sometimes candy, once near Tu B’Shevat they sent a fruit platter… it’s so much fun. My kids literally wait for it every week!”
“Wow, that sounds really special,” I said, genuinely impressed.
Ezra V’Simchah didn’t do anything like that. But then again, Ezra V’Simchah was providing meals and babysitting, the meat and potatoes of our family’s needs. It sounded like this other organization was more of the dessert. But boy, could my kids do with being treated right now….
I thought of them, each in turn.
Chezky, who kept complaining that he needed help studying for his tests. Ruchy, who had reverted to thumb sucking in recent weeks. Meir’s teacher kept calling, wanting to discuss his “challenging behavior,” and Moshe, my little ray of sunshine, was waking up almost every night.
I thought about how their faces would light up to receive new toys and games, or be treated to a major trip in a resort. It was just what they needed.
My new friend hadn’t finished — when I checked my emails later on, I saw she’d sent me dozens of pictures of her kids on last year’s trip. Everything — the food, the decor, the program — looked incredible.
Looks amazing, I wrote to her.
It isssss!!!! Sign up ASAP, their really full already.
Ordinarily the typo would’ve irked me, but now I was just grateful.
Thanks. I will!
I read Shayna’s last text, Hope to see you there! and took out my phone to dial Shifra. Then feeling nervous, I decided to send her a text message instead.
Hi, thanks for reaching out! Can you give me a call tomorrow morning? was Shifra’s reply to my carefully worded message.
called in the car, before work, my heart beating a little faster than usual. I imagined telling Heshy, telling the kids, and imagined their faces hearing the descriptions, and how they’d finally, finally, get the treats and pampering and attention that they really deserved.
“We do have a few rooms still available for the midwinter getaway,” Shifra said, her voice filling the car over the Bluetooth speakers. “The thing is, there are certain requirements that our organization has, so let me just check that you’re eligible.”
I filled her in on the details she asked for: Heshy’s diagnosis and the treatment plan he was on, the number of kids I had and what ages, where we lived.
“Okay, that sounds fine,” Shifra said. It sounded like she was shuffling some papers. “Let’s talk about services for a minute, aside from the midwinter trip. Do you know that Chasdei Ahuva offers other programs as well — big brother/big sister, Shabbos treats, respite for the kids….”
“I do, and it sounds amazing,” I told her. “We actually have babysitting help already, from Ezra V’Simchah — I’m sure you’ve heard of them. But the Shabbos treats thing sounds so, so special.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, I’m here,” Shifra replied, but her voice sounded more distant now. “I feel so bad… but I didn’t realize you already belong to an organization. You said you get help from Ezra V’Simchah?”
“Belong?” That sounded ridiculous. “They help us out with meals and babysitting, but it’s not like… I mean, is that a problem?”
“Not a problem, exactly, but…” Shifra coughed. “We have a policy — many organizations do, actually — that we don’t take on families who are already getting help from other places. I was actually going to ask you that when we began discussing services. It’s — for a number of reasons, it’s better that way.”
My mind seemed to stop short. “Better?” I stuttered. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“It’s a policy. We need to help people who aren’t getting the help from anywhere else.”
I was reeling. This couldn’t be happening. After mustering the courage to make this call, getting my hopes up, picturing the kids’ excitement at getting to enjoy something that was really designed just for them….
“But — you do different things!” I blurted. “I mean, they help practically, meals, and childcare, and stuff — but they don’t have vacations or, or the gifts… stuff for the kids….” To my mortification, my voice cracked. Tears were starting to leak from my eyes. I had to pull myself together, argue my case.
Shifra sounded genuinely apologetic. “I’m so sorry. I wish we could help. But we really have a strong policy about this. We never make exceptions.”
For a wild moment, I wondered if I should just cancel the help I was getting from Ezra V’Simchah. Maybe just until after the midwinter trip?
“Do you do, you know, meal rotations? Supper food each night?” I asked.
“We don’t provide that, no,” Shifra said. She sounded uncomfortable, like she knew what I was thinking.
Just forget it.
I couldn’t give up on the practical help — the seamless delivery of suppers to my door each night, the help with childcare, the support I was getting on a daily basis from Miri. Not even for the best midwinter getaway in the world.
But it was so unfair, so unjust, and so… wrong. What was their issue — ego? Because they wanted to be the saviors, the only ones to help?
And because of that, my children — who genuinely deserved what this organization had to offer — would be deprived?
I sat in the car, mindless of the time, and cried.
If I could tell Shifra one thing, it would be: Your organization exists to do chesed; why are the rules so egotistical and unyielding?
The woman who called me Wednesday morning sounded just like dozens of other women who call me on a weekly basis.
Hesitant, grateful, and so courageous.
These women — who shoulder responsibility for families, homes, work, with all the worry of a sick spouse on their minds too — they’re real heroes.
I admire them so much, and honestly? I feel like I gain more than I give, working with people who handle such challenges with such grace.
Chasdei Ahuva is an organization that I run together with a close friend whom I got to know in the hospital. We had children going through treatment at the same time. My Avi recovered; her Ahuva did not. But over the months that we spent on the same ward, we became as close as sisters, and we were witness, up-close, to the incredible chesed that flows from Klal Yisrael to Yidden in pain, especially sick children.
Shoshi was the one who suggested starting an organization specifically for families with a sick parent. Something along those lines already existed, but we knew that more was needed. Eventually, our small chesed project morphed into a large organization with multiple programs for families in need, including Shabbos gifts, deliveries of toys and games, medical guidance and advocacy in hospitals, and arranging respite care for the children. We have a fundraising department and several employees, and have helped hundreds of families. But we’re both still involved full-time — it’s more than a project, it’s a job and passion and a mission all rolled into one.
I am the one who takes care of registering new families — speaking to the mothers, finding out what help they need, and passing on the information to the relevant departments efficiently. So today’s call from Chayala Kraus was pretty much routine — especially just before the midwinter getaway.
idwinter Magic was Shoshi’s idea. We already had a program that helped fund sleepaway camp for children with a sick parent, but midwinter was a time when the already-overburdened mothers had to juggle kids off from school on top of everything else. Many of these families had lost their main source of income and were struggling to make it financially, so there were no fun trips or midwinter getaways for them. The children, suffering from the situation in any case, now had to contend with feeling deprived of fun family time, and were sitting at home miserable until school started again.
“What if,” Shoshi said to me one day. “What if we could make a mega winter vacation for all the families we service? Like, a massive resort, and skiing and winter sports type of things… and obviously, food and entertainment and gifts. Like, really, really pamper these families. Give the parents a break, give the kids a blast, and they’ll come home so refreshed and feeling like they did something really special with their winter break.”
“It sounds amazing,” I agreed. “But….”
“But how will we fund it?” Shoshi interrupted. “You know what? Leave it to me.”
I did. That’s how we worked: Shoshi had the crazy ideas, I tried to ground her, and she somehow made them happen anyway while I stayed behind the scenes to figure out the technical details. This time, though, I wasn’t so sure how she’d pull it off. I mean, we weren’t talking thousands of dollars here, we were talking much, much more.
But a couple of weeks later, Shoshi turned up at my house one morning.
“I had to tell you in person,” she announced dramatically. “We did it, we did it, we did it!! I have the funding. Our midwinter vacation is haaaaaaaaaaaapppeeening!”
“Whaaaaat?” I shook my head, amazed. “Shoshi, you’re — incredible. I can’t believe it. So where are we going? What is the program going to be? We’re gonna have to hire someone to manage this….”
“Now you’re talking,” Shoshi said, laughing, and just like that, we had a mega Midwinter Magic trip to plan.
he rest, as they say, is history. We ran the trip once, and by the next year, we had a major waiting list. Now we were up to our fifth year, and we worked on the midwinter trips literally from the day we returned from the last one — fundraising, planning a program, logistics, entertainment, the works.
I also began noticing a pattern. Every year around midwinter vacation, we got a surge of calls from eligible families wanting to register with our organization so they could join the retreat. But we couldn’t accommodate all the callers, so we began creating some criteria and prioritizing families who wanted to sign up for all of our services — not just show up for the free trip.
It was always hard to assess when the need was genuine. But in most cases, it really was. Every family with a sick parent needed the extra help, the pampering, the feeling of being totally and utterly taken care of, even if just for a few days.
But I did my due diligence, speaking to every caller, discussing all the ways that Chasdei Ahuva could help them out throughout the year, and ensuring they met the criteria to join the midwinter trip and receive our services in general. We consulted with daas Torah before setting policies, and tried to make sure that everything we did was aboveboard, fair, and transparent. This was tzedakah money, generously donated by people who wanted to fill real needs, and Shoshi and I both felt the achrayus to handle the funding correctly.
The Krauses checked all the boxes. Except for the most important one.
She’d begun by telling me her story: her husband’s diagnosis, the treatment that made him weak and unable to keep his job, how she had to take on extra hours at work and stretch herself thin to be there for everyone. She had a few young children; they were all suffering in their own ways and needed the extra help.
A midwinter getaway would be a dream for them, she said.
I was sure that it would be, but my mind was already surging ahead. Four days would be wonderful, but there are 365 days in a year. “What about other services? Do you know that we provide things like respite care, the Shabbos treats program, or big brother/big sister mentoring for school-aged children?” I asked.
“I do,” she said. “It sounds amazing! But the truth is, I’m getting a lot of babysitting help already, from Ezra V’Simchah. The Shabbos treats sound so special, though.”
That. That was the problem.
I bit my lip. I hated to say this, and yet I had to.
Because one of those policies that we’d set up was not to take on families that were getting serviced by a similar organization — and Ezra V’Simchah focused on exactly the same demographic as we did.
There were several reasons why we did this. One was simply to make the best use of the tzedakah money with which we were entrusted. Families receiving no help at all needed us more than those who were getting services from other places. And another reason was to avoid complicated scenarios that would potentially come up when families were taking guidance and direction from too many places. Like the Hochberg story.
MR.Hochberg reached out to us when his wife was diagnosed. They had 12 children, all living at home, and they desperately needed practical help as well as financial support — Mrs. Hochberg had been working and couldn’t anymore. But more than that, they were absolutely overwhelmed navigating the medical system — from choosing a doctor to knowing which hospital had the best reputation for treating her particular diagnosis.
Esther, who handled medical guidance, gave her heart and soul to helping the Hochbergs. They didn’t have much family nearby, and very few connections, and she sat with them for hours, reviewing the options, speaking to doctors, helping them understand the treatment protocol, and advising them on which experts could help with the big decisions that they had to make.
At the same time, we set up the children with big sisters/brothers who took them out once a week, sent deliveries of Shabbos treats each week and new games and toys once a month, and another one of our team — Naomi — spent hours just listening to Mrs. Hochberg and supporting her in her challenging journey.
And then, one day to the next, the Hochbergs seemed to drop off the planet.
We continued sending the gifts and the volunteers. But they stopped calling Esther, and when Naomi reached out to Mrs. Hochberg, she didn’t answer the phone, and replied to a concerned text message with a cursory, thanks so much but we’re doing good!
We were a little confused, and yes, it was hurtful to be thrown aside like that, but we weren’t in it for ourselves. We gave each other chizuk — it’s hard to need to take help, this is their way of coping with it, the zechus is still there, even bigger this way — and then moved on.
A few months later, Esther received a call from a frantic Mr. Hochberg, and the story emerged: At the time that they stopped reaching out to us, they’d just made contact with a representative of another organization. This organization funded cleaning help and sent Shabbos food to families with a sick parent or child — both of which we didn’t offer. But they also gave unofficial medical advice and recommendations — not, I understood, backed by doctors or experts in the field, but by people advocating alternative medication and treatment plans.
The Hochbergs had been enthralled at the idea of healing through diet and yoga — no hospitals, doctors, or grueling treatment regimens — and cold turkey, she’d stopped consulting with Esther and the top doctor we’d managed to get her seen by, and began a course of “natural healing.”
It didn’t work.
And now, faced with a frightening verdict after Mrs. Hochberg was admitted to hospital with severe symptoms, the family wanted our help again.
We tried our best. But the top doctor wouldn’t take them on again, and the illness had progressed over the wasted months.
fter that story, we spoke to a rav, and then some askanim who were involved in several organizations. And then we spoke directly to the heads of these organizations servicing the same population as ours and simply came to a mutual agreement: We service our families, you service yours. That way, there’s no confusion, no two people giving contradictory advice, no wasting everyone’s time and energy and resources with this “double-dipping” that isn’t of any use to anyone — least of all, the families themselves.
Even in cases where the family isn’t jumping between two different medical advisors — and is simply just taking the best of each organization — it’s not great.
I remember the kids who came on last year’s midwinter trip with swag from around 15 different organizations — some of them only tenuously connected to their family situation.
They spent the entire time talking about this midwinter trip compared to two different shabbatons and a free Chol Hamoed concert, and the gifts, deliveries, and food boxes that they got from eight different places before Yom Tov.
The worst part was that Mr. Klein, one of our main donors, had been there to hear it too. We invite him and his wife on every midwinter trip; they like to come to “see the impact” of their contribution, as they put it. Usually, his feedback after the trip is effusive and positive.
This time… let’s just say it wasn’t.
“You have to understand, I’ve given significant donations to both organizations, with the understanding that many people will get helped — not that the same people should get double the piece of the pie,” he had told Shoshi and me afterward, a faint trace of a foreign accent coming out in his agitation. “You have what, 200 families here on this trip? And that’s fantastic. But there are so, so many families in need. So donors like to give some here, some there, and know that they’re having an impact on many people, in many different ways. Why should the same family take it all?”
I had to admit that he had a point. We had to do something to stop the trend — and not just because we didn’t want to upset our most generous financial backer.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want these children to get treated — we did, that was the whole point of our organization. But this felt… wrong. Like taking advantage of klal resources. Why should one family get eight boxes of toys, gifts, and food, when there were seven families who could each receive one in their place?
course, most people weren’t like that. But even the less extreme stories were problematic: the woman totally confused when two organizations guided her to different doctors, the teen who pulled out of desperately needed and fully funded therapy when her mentor from another organization gave a well-meaning comment, out of context, about being “strong enough to handle this alone,” the family who went straight from our trip on another organization’s shabbaton and caused a backlash from families who’d been turned down from both due to lack of space….
So we had policies in place and a list of organizations that were “mutually exclusive.” We weren’t the only chesed organization that did that — in fact, it’s pretty standard in the non-profit world — but when the families reach out for help, it often takes them by surprise.
And now, I had to explain the system to Chayala Kraus.
“I’m so sorry,” I told her. “We have a policy about families being registered with more than one organization. I was actually about to ask you about that — we like to keep things separate. It’s better that way.”
“Better?” she sounded shocked — and hurt. I felt terrible.
“It’s a policy thing,” I tried to explain. “We need to help people who aren’t getting the help from anywhere else….”
“But — you do totally different things!” she said, and I heard her start to cry. Oh, this was terrible. I felt so bad when I had to turn a family down from joining the trip. So many people really, really needed it.
And there’s limited space, so you can’t say yes to everyone, my logical side reminded me.
I knew that, but it hurt.
It hurt to hurt others, to know that they were thinking I was being small-minded and callous and uncaring about their situation.
But at the same time I knew: Without policies in place, we couldn’t help anyone at all.
If I could tell Chayala one thing, it would be: We would help your family if we could, but there are factors you don’t see that make it impossible.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 945)
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