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Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I have been a reader for many years. I realize that lately you have been focusing on very serious subjects that pertain to the very life of our people, so I do not know whether you will publish my letter, which deals with family problems. I hope, however, that you will do so, not because it will change my family situation - it is too late for that - on the chance that others might learn from it.
It was an exceptionally hot and humid day in Toronto. I was driving the car with my bubbie sitting next to me, and baby Shmueli in the back. I suddenly remembered that I needed a small item at the local supermarket. I gently asked my bubbie if she would stay in the car with the baby while I ran into the store. My bubbie warmly replied, "Go, my shefele [sweetheart]."
Many moons ago, when I established Hineni, kiruv - outreach - was a foreign concept. The Orthodox world looked askance at the idea. "You're wasting your time," I was told. "Maybe they will become observant for a day, or even a few weeks, but then they will go back to their former life style."
Back when we established Hineni, kiruv - outreach - was practically a foreign concept. The observant community had no confidence in these "newcomers" to Torah. "They will never last," people warned me. "For a brief while," they conceded, "it may work, but they have no real commitment, and their involvement is fleeting." As for secular Jews, their attitudes ranged from hostility to outright suspicion and fear.
We live in a very chaotic world. If we stop to consider what is happening around us - all the things that are out of our control - it can be frustrating and frightening, so most of us try to bypass these situations by pretending we do not see them.
A few weeks ago I published a letter from a 45-year old single professional woman who expressed regret at having placed career before marriage. She bemoaned the years wasted and the opportunities lost for bringing children into the world and establishing a true Jewish home. In my response, I told her that it's never too late - that rather than agonizing over the past, she should concentrate on the here and now. I told her to bear in mind the many miraculous happenings of our past as well as the amazing stories of today of all the singles who, through the many mercies of Hashem and modern medicine, do marry and have children later in life.
I joined the Jewish Press Emunah family four years ago when I wrote about my fall down a flight of stairs while holding my granddaughter. Baruch Hashem, my 16-month-old granddaughter came out without a scratch, but I became paralyzed and needed six months of rehab. Hashem saw fit to save me, and to help me recuperate.
In last week's column I published a letter from a 76-year-old widow concerned about her future. She wanted to know whether she should sell her house in Brooklyn and move in with her daughter in Queens. She felt lonely living alone, but was concerned about being a burden to her children, although both her daughter and son-in-law assured her that would not be the case.
There are many things in our lives for which we pray to Hashem. These include health, shalom bayit, nachat from our children, and parnassah. In Israel, we have been praying for rain for a while. Israel has been suffering from a dearth of rainfall for a number of years. The waterline in the Kinneret is visibly dropping, and the government has been scrambling for ways to conserve our dwindling water supply.
Most of you, my dear readers, are aware that many moons ago I was privileged to establish Hineni -the first kiruv (outreach) -movement, with the exception of Chabad. However, what many of you may not know is the extent to which Hineni mushroomed throughout the years and how it has expanded its activities to include many areas of outreach that range from beginners' Torah classes to in-depth study of the Talmud, from small tots programs to shidduch introductions, from young couples to parenting seminars, from Shabbatons to High Holy Day Services, and from in-house to office and home study classes, to live webcasts that reach Jewish communities throughout the world.
In response to my recent articles describing the odysseys of secular Jews who found their way home, I received much e-mail. One is the story of a young woman whose journey is typical of the angst with which assimilated Jews often struggle. But what is obvious in this woman's journey is Hashem's Providence. We need only open our eyes to discern it.
I write this column during the week of Parshas Vayechi, in which our father Yaakov imparts his blessing to his descendants. The Torah teaches that as he was about to give the brachah to Ephraim and Menasheh, the sons of Yosef, he suddenly posed a very strange and troubling question. "Mi eileh? - Who are these?"
Special Note: It appears that my articles on the pain of a family torn apart touched sensitive nerves. Sadly, too many of our families have become fragmented; too many are suffering from a lack of shalom bayis. The e-mails and letters that I received are all painful testimony to this breakdown of traditional family life. The following is just one of these letters.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I feel embarrassed to write to you about the conflicts that are tearing our family apart, but I have no recourse. I have tried many avenues; however none have worked and I am hoping that, if you publish my letter, the people involved will recognize themselves and perhaps get the message.
I needed Zaidy's scissors for another chore. It's a heavy, garment scissor that Zaidy Meir used when he worked as a shnaider (tailor) in the City. When he came to America with his family in 1951, he was able to get steady work although he did not speak English. It's a heavy, garment scissor that Zaidy Meir used when he worked as a shnaider (tailor) in the City. When he came to America with his family in 1951, he was able to get steady work although he did not speak English.