I write this column during the month of Nissan, the month when we usher in the awesome Yom Tov of Pesach, and once again, I find myself on a plane en route to New York from Eretz Yisrael. This time, I am returning from an extended trip that encompassed programs in two large cities in France - Paris and Marseilles, then a hop over to Budapest, and from there to Yerushalayim, where I spoke in Binyanei HaUmah, as well as to a group of beautiful young people...students and professionals.
I have received much e-mail from my readers in response to my series on "Why Can't I Get Married?" There is one common denominator that unites them - finding a marriage partner has become one of the most challenging problems of our generation, and the older one gets, the more formidable this simple quest becomes.
As promised, I will now try to offer some recommendations on how to find "Mr./Ms. Right." Some years ago, an attractive young non-observant woman whom I shall refer to as "Kelly" came to consult me regarding a shidduch.
Some weeks ago I published a letter from a secular Jewish woman in her mid-thirties. To all appearances, she had everything going for her - a successful career, good health, dynamic personality, many boyfriends and relationships. She wrote, however, that it all had no meaning. More than anything, she yearned to build a home and start a family, but marriage kept eluding her.
In my last column I posed a simple question: Why has that short walk down the aisle become such a long arduous trek and so painfully difficult for so many?
Last week's column evoked tremendous response. Many men contacted me expressing interest in meeting the young lady. I will be more than happy to follow-up. However, it's my policy to make shidduch recommendations only after I meet the candidates. So to all those who wrote, may I suggest you call our office for an appointment?
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I'm not the type of person who writes letters for advice. As a matter of fact, I'm surprised at my own self for seeking out your guidance, but I feel so desperate and frustrated that I decided to give it a try in the hope that you could shed some light on my problem.
I write this column during Parshas Yisro - the portion that focuses on Matan Torah -The Giving of the Torah. Paradoxically, the parshah is not entitled Matan Torah or Aseret HaDibrot - The Ten Commandments, or even Moshe Rabbeinu, who brought the commandments down from Sinai. Amazingly, the parshah is named for Yisro, the heathen priest. What did Yisro do to merit such distinction?
Most of you, my dear readers, are aware that many moons ago I was privileged to establish Hineni -the first kiruv (outreach) -movement, with the exception of Chabad. However, what many of you may not know is the extent to which Hineni mushroomed throughout the years and how it has expanded its activities to include many areas of outreach that range from beginners' Torah classes to in-depth study of the Talmud, from small tots programs to shidduch introductions, from young couples to parenting seminars, from Shabbatons to High Holy Day Services, and from in-house to office and home study classes, to live webcasts that reach Jewish communities throughout the world.
In response to my recent articles describing the odysseys of secular Jews who found their way home, I received much e-mail. One is the story of a young woman whose journey is typical of the angst with which assimilated Jews often struggle. But what is obvious in this woman's journey is Hashem's Providence. We need only open our eyes to discern it.
I have often been told that, when it comes to Jewish self-discovery -teshuvah, it is easier to reach out to females than to males and, indeed, there are some indications of this. But I have found this theory to be wrong. If, in some circles, there are more females attending Torah study programs, it is only because the men have not yet been tapped. The truth is that the pintele Yid is as potent in males as females and is able to ignite the heart of a man even as that of a woman. Just as the pintele Yid is not affected by the ravages of time, so it is not subject to gender differences.
As I indicated in my last column, there are a thousand-and-one inspirational stories that I could share with you, testifying to the pintele Yid embedded for all eternity in every Jewish heart. It might be a book, speech, Shabbos experience, a hug, kind word, or a blessing from a bubby, zeidy, rabbi or Torah teacher. In an instant, that pintele Yid can come to life, make a journey that spans thousands of years and reconnect the soul to Sinai - and thus, every day, Yiddishe neshamos are reborn.
I write this column during the week of Parshas Vayechi, in which our father Yaakov imparts his blessing to his descendants. The Torah teaches that as he was about to give the brachah to Ephraim and Menasheh, the sons of Yosef, he suddenly posed a very strange and troubling question. "Mi eileh? - Who are these?"
Many moons ago, when our children were small, my husband and I would spend our summers at Liebowitz's Pine View Hotel in the Catskill Mountains. It was a special time - before today's technology -when people actually talked to one another and were happy just to get away from the city and breathe some fresh country air. To me, however, that which was most special was that I had the zechus to host my dear parents every Shabbos. Then my talks took on an added dimension because my beloved, honored parents were there. Many amazing miracles occurred during these Shabbosim.
This past week was the yahrzeit of Avi Mori, my dearly beloved father, my teacher, my guiding light, the eminent sage, HaRav HaGaon HaTzadik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt"l. It is difficult to believe that 18 years have already passed since he was called to the Heavens above. In my mind's eye, I hear his kind, gentle voice; I see his magnificent, holy countenance and his loving smile, and yet, the years have passed. Eighteen is not an ordinary number.... 18 is chai - life - so I would like to recall some of the memories from the exemplary life of my saintly father, Avi Mori.
For the past few weeks my column has focused on the tragic reality of internal strife within families. The response has been overwhelming. It appears that countless numbers of our families are suffering from this fragmentation and are in urgent need of help.
Special Note: For the past two weeks my columns have focused on the sad state of contemporary family life - controversies between siblings, parents, and children. Unfortunately, however, this deplorable state of affairs is not limited to families. Our communities and our institutions are all ridden by "infighting."
Special Note: It appears that my articles on the pain of a family torn apart touched sensitive nerves. Sadly, too many of our families have become fragmented; too many are suffering from a lack of shalom bayis. The e-mails and letters that I received are all painful testimony to this breakdown of traditional family life. The following is just one of these letters.
In last week's column, I published a very sad letter from a young woman who wrote that two of her sisters were not on speaking terms and had splintered the family with their animosity.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I feel embarrassed to write to you about the conflicts that are tearing our family apart, but I have no recourse. I have tried many avenues; however none have worked and I am hoping that, if you publish my letter, the people involved will recognize themselves and perhaps get the message.