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Chronicles Of Crisis In Our Communities – 12/22/06

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Dear Rachel,

Being an older single girl in a very marriage-oriented society is not easy. Spending many long fruitless years dating isn’t easy either. I went from one heartbreaking saga to the next − each time getting a little more discouraged. My friends were married, having children and moving on in their lives. And me? I was still dating.

And then a friend set me up. From the first date it was different. I didn’t say anything in the beginning, but something inside of me knew that this just might be it. Every successive date made me surer. I began to confide in people that my search may have come to an end. In my heart I knew.

We have so much in common: goals, dreams, aspirations, and we both spent many difficult years dating. Less than six hours ago the phone rang. It was Dor Yeshorim. We have one more thing in common − we are both carriers for a serious genetic disease. There would be a one in four chance for each of our children to have this debilitating illness. The shock was immense − never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined such a scenario.

With the pain still fresh in my heart and the tears still wet on my face, I turn my pain into a message to the Jewish community. With the ability to genetically test, G-d has given us the means by which to avoid so much suffering. When G-d chooses to send suffering, then we accept it with love − but when man chooses it?

How different my story would be had we tested before the first date. But who does that? After the time spent checking every aspect of the boy/girl, who can be bothered to spend the five minutes to confirm the match with Dor Yeshorim? Better to save the five minutes − and wait until the couple is emotionally involved??

Why isn’t it accepted in our community to test before every boy and girl meet? Everyone believes that these stories happen only to others. Just like I did. Until less than six hours ago − when it hit home. And nothing I have gone through in my life has prepared me for this anguish.

I do not have a monopoly on pain and suffering. There are so many different types of agony, each worse then the next. But there is extra pain in knowing how easily this could have been avoided.

And what will it take to change the policy? This is a situation that so many before me have faced, so many after me will face − and everyone has the chance to avoid. It is too late for me now − but it may not be too late for you.

“May it not befall you − all who pass by this road. Behold and see, if there is any pain like my pain which befell me” (Eichah 1:12).

Should have, could have, yet didn’t

Dear Didn’t,

My heart goes out to you and your families. You have suffered a terrible letdown. We don’t often hear of this sorrowful disillusionment because of the low percentage rate in receiving such negative news and due to the fact that most people check in with Dor Yeshorim (genetic screening program) early on in the process.

Take, for example, the Chassidic members of our communities. Boy and girl have their first encounter. If a second “meeting” is in the offing, Dor Yeshorim is promptly consulted. At this early stage, discomfort at hearing “bad news” is minimal.

You don’t say for how long a time you were seeing your suitor, but anyone who tachlis dates is well advised to check with the genetic testing lab once there is a mutual indication of interest in pursuing a relationship. Of course one has the option to call Dor Yeshorim before ever connecting with a potential shidduch candidate, but the practical and safe solution is to do so before embarking on a second or third date.

Faith and belief in the ways of Hashem will sustain you and ease the ache in your heart – you must trust that this was simply not a match made in Heaven. May He wipe your tears away and lead you to your true match and happiness forever after.

Thank you on behalf of our readers for sharing your painful ordeal. Many are sure to gain benefit from their exposure to your traumatic episode.

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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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