web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.

A Special Friend


Shelly was a lifelong friend who passed away too soon for all of us who knew her. There is a feeling of profound loss for this unique woman who left her mark on this world and touched the hearts of so many.

Although Shelly was quite a bit older than me, older than my own mother in fact, I still thought of her as my friend. To Shelly, age was not an issue in relationships; she had the ability to create deep bonds with all types of people, no matter their age, level of observance, material wealth, background or status. She had a special gift, a quality that allowed everyone who knew her to feel valued and connected.

For me, Shelly was also the first single mom I ever encountered – I met her when I was just a child. In our close knit community Shelly and her two children became part of our small circle of friends, our extended family.

Interestingly enough, I never thought about Shelly being a single mom when I was younger. She clearly did not allow her marital status to define who she was and she certainly never allowed her son and daughter to use it as an excuse. Their family was simply Shelly and the kids, different than ours but in no way “less” of a family unit.

Mind you, this was a time when divorce and blended families were not found in every third to fifth home in town. Divorce was virtually unheard of when and where I grew up. As I became a teenager, divorce became more prevalent but still did not affect the majority of people I knew.

Shelly’s children did everything the other kids in our neighborhood did with little regard to the fact that they were the only ones from a single parent home. Their home was always filled with guests; they went to sleepaway camp, were counselors in our local youth group and held summer jobs, just like everyone else. They attended the local Jewish day school, went away to Israel for their “gap year” and earned college degrees from private universities.

Although their father was not a part of their daily lives, I do recall hearing of family trips to visit with him that included “mom.” Never did I hear a negative or spiteful word said about the children’s father. Since I did not know much about divorce in those years, I just assumed that this was the “norm.” I learned later on how exceptional this family really was.

As much as her status as a single mom seemed inconsequential in so many ways, Shelly worked hard to maintain her family and to balance the many responsibilities she had as a single mom. This was a major influence on me when I found myself a single mother of two small children, a girl and a boy.

Shelly had been there throughout my youth; she was there for most of my major milestones in life – as an excited young bride, a new mother, my son’s brit milah – she was just always there. Fortunately for me she was also there during my divorce; I actually lived in the same apartment building as her.

Suddenly our relationship metamorphosed; my friend’s mom and my mother’s friend now became my confidant and mentor. She became a support system for me at a time in my life that others simply could not relate to. I truly believe that it was Hashem’s hand that placed us both in that very condominium complex when I needed her most. Physically and emotionally she was there for me, helping me to see the light in what felt like darkness.

About the Author: Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Special Friend”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Canadian policeman at scene of terrorist attack in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Terror: US Pledges Support for Canada but Tells Israel to Stay Calm
Latest Sections Stories

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

More Articles from Yehudit Levinson

Since I did not know much about divorce in those years, I just assumed that this was the “norm.” I learned later on how exceptional this family really was.


Although my ex-husband was unable to attend we still wanted to include his family members who lived here is Israel and were very happy that we choose to do so for our son’s sake.

This particular article has been on my computer for quite some time now – incomplete. What compelled me to complete it was my son’s 19th birthday. Born of my first marriage and raised solely by my husband and me for the past seventeen-plus years, my son has only a few memories of time spent with his biological father. My children have made me acutely aware of Parental Disconnect issues. I hope that sharing my thoughts on it will help save others from the pain and confusion we have had to work through.

Family court, visitation and child support are all unavoidable realities for divorced parents. One particular rule that would be wise to heed is that child support should be less about dollars and cents and more about dollar and “good” sense.

Journaling, putting your feelings down on paper, is a well known method of coping with difficult or traumatic experiences. In fact there have been studies done that seem to prove that people who “journal” live happier, healthier lives. In his book Writing to Heal, James Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, explores this concept. He stresses that when we write about trauma, emotional upheavals or difficult issues we are struggling with, the “heart rates slow, blood pressure drops and immune systems strengthen.”

In all honesty, I really do feel blessed. Interestingly though only someone in a family situation like mine could possibly comprehend this particular “blessing,” and many would not consider it a blessing at all. You see I feel fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful women in my life – both of whom happen to be my mothers-in-law, one from my first marriage and one from my second.

Recently a popular Jewish weekly magazine featured a story depicting the life of a young boy whose parents were divorced. Each parent had re-married, establishing new families. Their shared custody of this son, and he spent substantial time with each of his parent’s new families. Giving a voice to the child of divorce was the intention of the story. It highlighted the distress children feel as well as the confusing messages they often receive from the adults in their lives.

When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/a-special-friend/2014/06/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: