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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/27/09

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Esther – An Update (Part 3)

In the last two columns readers were reacquainted with “Esther” and updated on a series of new developments. We have, in fact, discovered that Esther has proven to be a hearty survivor, although it wasn’t too long ago when she herself would have scoffed at that very notion.

Although everyone’s life is fraught with ups and downs, Esther – as has been chronicled here in the past – has had an inordinate amount of heartache and has suffered extraordinarily painful experiences. [See Chronicles of 5-16, 23; 8-1, 8; 10-31; 11-7-08]

Last week we were swept along on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Who will deny that everyone loves a love story, and who can’t do with one in these especially unsettling times…?

In the last column we left Esther at her window (her date having dropped her off) wistfully watching the car lights disappear from her range of view. Her life metamorphosed rather quickly, considering that only eight months prior to this moment, she had long given up hope of ever knowing happiness in any sense of the word.

“How can this happen to me in a matter of a few days? …I feel tightness in my stomach but also a very warm tingle…”Esther’s swirling emotions were understandable under her unique circumstances.

This was Wednesday, the fourth candle-lighting night of Chanukah – less than a week since her first encounter with Aryeh who had shown up simply to deliver a letter from her son in Israel.

“The flowers on the Shabbos table were beautiful,” read Esther’s exuberant e-mail on Sunday morning. “We talked till the wee hours of the night.” She referred to her lengthy discussion with Aryeh of the preceding Motzaei Shabbos.

But just as she was in the process of analyzing, deciphering and interpreting every nuance of their conversation, Esther’s euphoria suddenly came to a grinding halt. The fragrance that had permeated her Shabbos Chanukah quickly evaporated – as Israel launched its invasion of Gaza.

The anxious tone of her e-mails was disconcerting, to say the least. She was clearly shaken. “Aryeh cut his visit short his parents live in Be’er Sheva rockets I am worried.”

More of the same in the tense days that followed: “My son called his friends live in areas that have been hit ” “I am very worried ” “He knows the family of one of the wounded soldiers… G-d protect them!”

And more melancholy… “Aryeh called…sounded calm didn’t say a thing about coming back.”

This last particular tidbit changed about two weeks later when Aryeh informed Esther that he would be returning to the States in March.

Still, she was down in the dumps. Her animated e-mails that had exuded infectious enthusiasm just a short time ago were now condensed to one-word missives. “Depressed!!” she answered, with 20 exclamation marks following the word, when I asked how she was holding up.

Baruch Hashem, three weeks into January saw the withdrawal of Israeli troops. By the very beginning of February, Esther seemed to have bounced back – and for good reason. Her son, who had obviously picked up on his mother’s despondency, flew to her side to take things in hand!

During his three-day stay in the last week of January, he helped organize not only her thoughts – “I DECIDED! I am moving to Israel! Hoping to leave by… Rosh Chodesh Adar!” – but also saw to the massive task of organizing, planning and preparing the actual physical arrangements.

As a matter of fact, she had it all tied up neatly. “I donated most of my things…furniture… someone can use them… will be picked up the day I Ieave. The trucks will come at 8:00 a.m.” Most of her books and magazines she had already given to an old-age home, she had done a closet clean-up and given away clothes she wouldn’t be needing, and her utilities were slated to be disconnected on the day she would be leaving.

“I bought a few suitcases for the things that I will take…mostly clothing, some books, mementos, gifts, etc. I estimated I should have at least five suitcases…want to be 99 percent packed at least two days prior to leaving. That way I will see if I need any more….”

The news was astounding, the accomplishments in the space of a mere couple of days absolutely amazing.

“I was very nervous when I decided (together with my son) to make the drastic move. But since he left I feel very excited, and yet very nervous. Or maybe this nervousness is really anticipation. I can’t decide…I guess I did a lot of things and it feels strange…” wrote Esther, all in the same e-mail in which she broke the news of her decision.

Oh, and about her employer whom Esther had previously talked about in glowing terms and who had been so understanding of Esther’s personal difficulties: “We had a very nice (and emotional) conversation. He seemed really happy for me…had encouraged me to move there… already gave me a nice severance pay: six months worth…” To my recollection, that was double his original generous offer!

Before we proceed with the rest of Esther’s story: this is an ideal juncture at which to alert readers that this series is being presented here not simply for its entertainment value. Actually, Esther magnanimously agreed to let our reading audience in on the chain of events that has transpired in her life since last summer, for – in her words – “If there is even one person out there who can be helped from my story, perhaps that zechus [merit] will be partly mine.”

My dear Esther, your story holds so many valuable lessons for mankind that it is hard to know where to begin… Take, for instance, the compassion of one human being who could have easily remained indifferent and disconnected – your boss. And yet, his tremendous kindness toward you is a shining example of how one can utilize his station in life to create opportunities to make a real difference in someone’s life.

More to come…

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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