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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/07/08

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Esther returns from her latest journey in life…
(Readers: see last week’s Chronicles)

Dear Rachel,

I hope your Yomim Tovim were as wonderful as mine were. WOW!!! May Hashem bentch you for all you have done for me.

My son, his wife and my beautiful little granddaughter awaited me at the terminal with a huge bouquet of flowers. The little girl ran to me as if she knew me forever, shouting: “Savta ‘Esther,’ Savta ‘Esther!’” (Her parents had explained who I am.) I cried and cried and cried (I’m good at that!)

Let me tell you a little about my new found family…in Israel! Hold on to your seat!!! My daughter-in-law is half-Yemenite. Her mother is from Yemeni parents, her father a six-generation native of Jerusalem. (I think they call it Yerushalmi – like the kugel I learned to eat.) She is utterly beautiful – tall, light brown, and delightful. My granddaughter, a first-grader, has her eyes but looks a bit like my son. How is that for irony??

You can imagine that over the holiday season we talked for hours on end, catching up on lost years – my son’s growing-up years in particular. At one point I asked him to let me meet his stepmother. (He calls her Ima… and me they called Ima’le!)

As an American, I had to have a second Yom Tov (not a problem). After the meal, we went into a small pretty hotel in the area and sat in the lobby. A short while later, a woman walked slowly over and my son and daughter-in-law rose to greet her. They both spoke up: “Chag Sameach, Ima!” My granddaughter ran to her, taking her hand and pulling her towards me, saying: “Look Savta, I also have a Savta ‘Esther!’” I stood up quickly and we both fell into each other’s arms. Of course I cried hysterically. (My son and daughter-in-law spoke so highly of her; I simply felt at the moment of meeting that my gratitude to this woman could not be left inside.)

We sat there for a long time, speaking about everything. I thanked her for raising my child as her own. She replied simply that she could do it no other way.

During the rest of Sukkos I met her again when she came to visit and we all went to a park. What a wonderful, gracious woman! Anyone else would feel pushed aside by the natural mother appearing out of the blue. She took it all as something that has to be, and is G-d’s plan. A million years of thanks can never suffice for what she has done (though my heart twinged from the pain of the fact that it should have been ME who raised my own children – that it was not I who hugged them, kissed their tears away or tucked them in at night…) But this was NOT the time or place to harbor such thoughts. AND she did such a marvelous job! I just wanted to ingest as many happy moments as I could.

Rachel, I was very sad when it suddenly came time to go back. I missed my son for so many years (all his life); I just did not have enough. But they are planning to visit me here in America in the near future.

Only one thing put a damper on my euphoria. I discovered that my older son is not religious and that he married a woman he met in India after going there following his Army service. He has not contacted his family in years, and my son does not know where he is. It tore my heart and so my son avoided the subject for the rest of my stay with them.

Anyhow, I had a wonderful time, found a part of my family and swam in the deep waters of both regret and happiness. As for my older son, all I can do is daven that some day, hopefully, he realizes his mistake and comes back.

Rachel, I spoke of you many times, stressing that you saved my life. Please accept all our berachos and continue to do what you are doing. You give hope to the hopeless and encouragement to the depressed. You pulled me out of a deep black hole and I will forever thank you. Then again, I can never thank you enough.

As to Aaron: I know that he is looking down and chuckling at the irony of a Sephardi-Teimani being a major part of my family. What I refused to see, my son saw clearly.

May Hashem bless my son for the wisdom I did not have.

Good-bye, Rachel my Angel.

“Esther”

Dear Esther,

You have brought tears to my eyes once again. (Just for the record, it is you who is special, not I.) To have come such a long way and survived such tremendous pain is truly remarkable. And obviously your son and his family recognize how very special you are.

I thought of you often during Yom Tov and prayed that all should go smoothly for you. I am profoundly sorry about your older son. Many things come to mind, but there is no sense in speculating on why he is “lost.” Though I doubt that The Jewish Press is popular reading material in India, in today’s computer age who is to say that a “chronicle” won’t make its way to the other end of the world? Haven’t we just witnessed such a miracle…?

“From heaven Hashem looks down…He sees all mankind…and oversees all inhabitants of the earth…He fashions their hearts and comprehends all their deeds.” These verses of the 33rd chapter of Tehillim highlight precisely Who is in charge of the goings on. I am most humbled to have played a part as His shliach, but it is you, Esther, who moved heaven and earth and stirred G-d’s compassion.

May He continue to shower upon you His blessings for happiness and nachas. (And please don’t hesitate to keep us posted.)

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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