Shmuel has been holding down a regular job for many years. Before taking his current position, as an “order picker” at the Paskesz kosher candy warehouse in South Brooklyn, he worked at the Kedem winery in Williamsburg, and continued working with Kedem when the winery moved to New Jersey, commuting back and forth to work on his own every day.
Sara Leah keeps busy until 3 o’clock each afternoon volunteering for various schools and communal organizations as part of a day habilitation program. She serves lunches to the students at a local yeshiva, and particularly enjoys visiting nursing homes, where she gets a chance to exercise her musical talents. Sara Leah is an accomplished piano player. One of her most precious possessions is a Casio electronic keyboard, which her father gave her as a present not long before he passed away. She often brings the keyboard with her to entertain those living at the nursing home.
When Sara Leah comes home from day-hab in the mid-afternoon, a HASC Center counselor is at their apartment to provide whatever assistance Sara Leah might need with the normal household tasks, including the shopping, cooking and housekeeping. The same counselor has been working with Shmuel and Sara Leah since they got married thirteen years ago. She says that during that time, they have become more capable and independent. For example, Shmuel and Sara Leah can now handle their money and household finances by themselves. Sara Leah boasts of the cooking and baking skills that she has learned in her day-hab program, and the varieties of challah she bakes every Thursday for Shabbos.
The HASC Center residence manager in charge of their apartment said that Shmuel and Sara Leah had been living there for the past six years, having previously lived in a much smaller supervised flat in a different part of Boro Park. She recalled that Sara Leah took an active role in the preparations for their move six years ago by picking out the furniture and linens for her new home.
The couple has won acceptance and put down roots in their local community. Shmuel davens at a nearby Breslover minyan three times a day, and regularly attends the Gemara shiur in Mesechtas Yuma given by its Rav. A few weeks before this interview, he and Sara Leah hosted a seudah in honor of the yahrzeit of Shmuel’s mother, and more than 50 people from the shul came to their apartment. One of the highlights of their social calendar is going to the Rav’s home every year for the Purim seudah. Sara Leah also enjoys her close relationship with the Rebbetzin and the wives of other members of Shmuel’s shul.
Sara Leah has a very close relationship with her stepmother, who comes to visit and have lunch with her every Sunday. Sara Leah also takes the credit for being the shadchan who arranged the first meeting between her father and her stepmother.
Shmuel and Sara Leah enjoy going to their families’ simchas, and visiting the homes of their siblings to spend time with their nieces and nephews, who adore them. During Shmuel’s summer vacation time, as well as for Pesach and Sukkos, the couple enjoys going away to a kosher hotel, with HASC Center providing the transportation, support and supervision needed to make the trips possible.
Shmuel and Sara Leah understand who they are, appreciate the assistance they receive that allows them to lead a productive and satisfying life together, and made it very clear that they want their story to be told. Sara Leah says, “I take good care of my husband, and he takes good care of me. My life is full of flowers.”
By the time the interview was over, I felt that I had made two, very interesting, new friends. Meeting this happy couple and getting to know them on their own terms was an enjoyable experience, which I highly recommend to all of you.
Yaakov Kornreich is the Senior Editor of Building Blocks.