I felt my shoulders lift when she spoke. I had the Rebbetzin’s brachah — and assurance — that I’d go far
“This way,” said the woman who opened the door of the Bnei Brak apartment. “The Rebbetzin will see you in a minute.”
I stood at the doorway, nervously biting my lip as I waited to be let into Rebbetzin Kolodetsky’s room. At the time, I was 24 years old — and very lost. I had just quit cosmetology school. Although I had a plan and was carrying it through, I was still afraid. Did it make sense for me to open a business? Was I wise to follow my dreams — or naive to think them possible?
“Let’s go ask the Rebbetzin,” my mother had suggested.
When I went to Eretz Yisrael that winter, she arranged for me to visit. So there I was, about to meet Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s daughter. When I walked into the room, she looked up and gave me a warm, bright smile.
“What brings you here?” she asked in Hebrew.
“I came to ask the Rebbetzin for a brachah, for hatzlachah” I shared. “I’m opening a clothing company.”
The Rebbetzin looked to her assistant as she translated my answer, then the Rebbetzin nodded and turned back to me.
“You must make tzniyus clothes, right?” When she saw my nod, the Rebbetzin continued. “If this is what you want to do and you believe in it, it will be with mazel.”
I felt my shoulders lift when she spoke. I had the Rebbetzin’s brachah — and assurance — that I’d go far.
“I’ll bring you some of my clothes,” I told Rebbetzin Kolodetsky before I walked out.
She smiled again. “You will.”
A year and a half later, I stood outside her home again. The black D-RAMA bag hung tight on my arm.
“Come in.” The Rebbetzin greeted me with the same warm smile.
“These are for you,” I told her and handed over the black bag.
She opened it enough to peek inside. “You make tzniyus clothing?” she asked. I told her that, yes, I did. I made beautiful, modest clothing for women who had a hard time shopping in mainstream stores.
I remember standing in front of her, watching her look into the bag, and thinking, Rebbetzin Kolodetsky is holding my clothing. She now owns pieces from D-RAMA. I’d come so far and worked so hard, but there I was, taking in one of the most significant moments of my life.
“I feel like I got the Rebbetzin’s endorsement,” I told my mother afterward. It was surreal — someone I looked up to so much, a beacon for so many women, was witness to my growth. Her smile, acceptance, and brachah were my validation. I’m on the right path. This is what I was born to do.
I wish 15-year-old Rechama knew that. If I could go back in time and meet her, I’d give her a tight hug and remind her there’s always an end game.
I’d squeeze her hand while she has a panic attack outside a wedding hall — because how on earth could she handle the stares when she walked in? And, if I could, I’d share the secret of her future: “Rechama, one day you’ll turn your pain into a passion.” One day, it would all make sense.
Then I’d skip ahead to 20-year-old Rechama and stand by her side as she sits at the chuppahs of her close friends, of her younger siblings, and I’d tell her that her pain has a place.
When she’d say “I’m ugly and horrible. No one will want to marry me because… see at how gross I look!” I’d remind her not to ignore how much she worked on herself, the inner strength she harnessed to grow. Marriage would come eventually — I still believe it will — but I’d remind her not to use that as a measure of her worth, and to blaze past others who try to do the same.
If I could go back to 25-year-old Rechama, I’d tell her what I still tell myself now. “Your time will come. There’s someone out there for you, so hold on and trust the process.” Then I’d buy her flowers and remember how proud she should be for being honest, true, and authentic.
To future Rechama, I’d say only this: Never, ever stop reaching higher. Because, girl, you’ve got this.
And you’re only just beginning.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 773)
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