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Yardsticks: Chapter 23

“It’s boring and gutless. This is your oldest child, Mina. You’ll do black for your grandchildren’s weddings”



Every mechuteneste needs a Raizy Gordon in her life to tell her not to do black.

“But it’s classy and slenderizing and safe,” I argued. “You always wear black.”

She swatted the air. “It’s boring and gutless. This is your oldest child, Mina. You’ll do black for your grandchildren’s weddings.”

Who was I to argue?

Masha, the woman helping us, was too tall and too sweet for my liking. “Stunning,” she gushed when I walked out of the fitting room wearing a blush-colored gown that made me look like a ghost.

She was exactly the type of saleslady I made an effort not to be. I liked to make my kallahs feel good, yes, but never with flattery.

Good thing Raizy had come along. She took one look at me and declared, “Not for you.”

She surveyed the racks along the wall. “This,” she said, pulling out a gold beaded dress, “would look beautiful with this.” She reached for a black organza dress and draped the gold one over it.

I shook my head. “We’re not sewing a new dress, Raizy, remember?”

She made me try on both dresses. I did, and she was right, the combination would make for a beautiful gown. But I wasn’t doing a custom gown.

I switched back into the black dress. It felt so right. “What should I do, I feel so comfortable in this,” I whined.

After debating for an hour, we settled on the black dress, with some gold embellishment.

“I love you anyway,” I told Raizy when we left.

She jabbed me with her elbow. “Do we go out to eat now?”

“You wish.” I pulled my planner out of the bag, wincing as the card Yocheved had written when she gave it fluttered to the floor. “No time. I have 15 things I need to take care of today, and there’s a ladies takanos meeting in my house tonight.”

“Takanos meeting,” Raizy grunted.

I glanced at her sharply. Was it my imagination, or was that a note of sarcasm in her voice?

I gritted my teeth. For all the relief the takanos plan was meant to afford, it managed to distress me time and time again.


Raizy’s cynical grunt jarred in my ears as I ushered the ladies into our living room that evening.

We’d called this meeting to discuss how we could attract baalei simchah to the takanos plan. The board was disappointed by the low number of signups.

“I met with five new kallahs last week,” Rebetzin Paneth reported. “Except for one girl, I felt like all of them came to me kicking and screaming.”

Shoshi Karp nodded. “There’s a stigma attached to the word takanos. Even parents who want to follow the plan feel some sort of shame, as though signing up means admitting they’ve failed.”

“That’s crazy,” I said. “We have to do something to change that attitude. Following the takanos plan should be a point of pride. Even if someone can afford an extravagant wedding, they shouldn’t be making one. They have to curb the spending, for their own good, and as a responsibility to the people around them.”

What was I saying? I was digging my own grave. How was I going to explain the menu upgrades the Engels had ordered for Shevy’s wedding? The eight piece band?

Why had I agreed to this meeting? Being around these women made me feel like the ultimate hypocrite.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 667)

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