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For the past several weeks this column has featured letters from parents who have experienced rejection and hatred from their children – as well as my suggestions on how to cope with such situations. This week I would like to share a letter that adds another dimension to the breakdown of so many families in our community. In this instance it’s not the children who have rejected the parents but a parent who has rejected her child.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.
I had watched my biological clock ticking away and now I wished I could live my life over again, establish a Torah home and create a family. I decided to write to you, Rebbetzin Jungreis in the hope that you’ll publish this so that others can learn from my experience and leave behind empty relationships, go under the chuppah, and live purposeful lives.
I have been overwhelmed by the e-mails and letters I’ve received in response to my series of articles focusing on my recent accident and surgery – so much so that while I wrote last week that the subject would be closed with that column, I feel compelled to share some of these communications with you.
Last week’s column was meant to be the last, for now, on the subject of shidduchim. Because of the problems singles experience in finding their soul mates, I had devoted several columns to the subject and was prepared to move on – until I received an e-mail I feel is a must read in order for us to gain a better understanding of the pain some of our singles are experiencing.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, one of many you surely receive each week about shidduchim. I hope to act as a representative of all the sad and lonely unmarried men and women in our society. I am hoping that if you share my message in whole or in part with our community, it will have an effect – even if it’s minute.
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.
In my last column I wrote about Leiby Kletzky and what I experienced when I made a shiva call to his family. My plan was to continue writing about this tragedy and focus on what we must learn from it and do. In the interim, I received a letter from a non-Jewish reader and felt I should share it.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: My mother lives with me and needs a great deal of attention, as do my four children. It seems as if everyone is pulling at me at once, and I don't know in which direction to turn first. All this stress has definitely affected my mental and physical health. I suffer from backaches and stomach trouble and lack the patience necessary to be a good wife and mother.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I am writing you regarding a situation I have come to realize is much more common among couples than people realize. The subject is infertility. My husband and I have been married fifteen years and have had serious medical problems having children from the start of our marriage.
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.
In my March 4 column, "What's Happening in the World? - I'm Afraid," I featured letters from two women who wrote of their fear at what is going on in the world. The second letter, from a Holocaust survivor, was particularly descriptive, as the woman decried the escalation of anti-Semitism, the savage terror attacks in every country, and the barbaric, murderous attacks on our people in Eretz Yisrael.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I am not Orthodox, nor am I actively involved in Jewish life. My background is Reform. My family attends High Holiday services; we are not kosher, but my parents have a seder on Passover - though we don't strictly observe the law of not eating bread during the entire holiday. My parents would never consider bringing really non-kosher food like ham or bacon into the house, though they do eat everything in restaurants. They are devoted to the land of Israel and they raised us with good Jewish values, and I visited Israel with our Temple youth group.
Special Note: I would like to thank the many people who have written expressing their appreciation for my series of columns titled "When Children Fall Through the Cracks." I am most grateful for the overwhelming response and I hope everyone who wrote will understand that while I would have liked to publish all the letters, for the time being I am closing the discussion to focus on the many other subjects that have reached my desk.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, As a regular follower of your columns, I am aware you are writing about your recent journeys that took you throughout the world on a mission to bring Torah to our people. I truly appreciate the importance of your work and have personally met many people who have become Jewishly committed after hearing you speak or reading your book. Nevertheless, may I be so presumptuous as to ask you to interrupt your series and respond to my letter, which is critically urgent?
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.
I've received an inordinate amount of mail in response to the letters I published two weeks ago regarding onas devarim - painful and abusive language. It seems this problem is prevalent in many circles, among children as well as adults, indicating this is a societal condition that is unfortunately reflective of our culture.
For the past two weeks my column has been devoted to the plight of seniors who find themselves incapacitated and in the unfortunate situation of being placed against their will in nursing homes. For various reasons, their children are unable to care for them or engage proper help to safeguard their well being.
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.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: For the past few weeks I have followed your articles, which focused on the pain and trauma of widowhood. Only someone who has been there can understand the loneliness. Additionally, there is guilt that the widow or widower has to deal with. As your last letter-writer indicated, we who are left behind, tend to second-guess ourselves with three haunting words - could've, should've, would've. I know because I have been, and am, still there.
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