Every soul has its journey specifically designed for it. My souls journey began in Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan (part of the former Soviet Union). My paternal grandma who was so connected to her Jewish heritage, decided to do a courageous move and immigrate to Israel in 1979; along with her children and grandchildren. As a child I was surrounded with chaos, which typically follows an immigration journey. With G-D’s grace I attended a Chabad elementary school in Tel Kabir, Israel. There I gained which tools of faith and prayer. Imagine a six year old girl who just started reading, independently pick up tehilim and pray for loved ones who were ill. The teachers I had at Chabad were inspirational. In 1987, we had a second immigration to NY. I was placed in a public school. I did not feel that I belonged there, and didn’t hesitate to express it; so my parents made sacrifices for me to attend Yeshiva. It was my connection to my faith that helped with what followed. I witnessed people, that I cared for, get physically and emotionally hurt. My instinctual role was to be the listening ear, be the nonjudgmental observer and seek help for them (when I found the courage to do so); at a time when outsiders were not trusted. When I had the courage to make that 911 call, as a last resort, for an emergency situation of physical abuse; I was in for a treat. I was chastised for it and was told that I should have called relatives instead. However, as a result of that call, an intervention was conducted to save both parties involved, for the sake of living.
In the summer of 1998, I walked down the aisle twice. First, down the Queens College graduation ceremony and then in a wedding hall, with my college sweetheart. We didn’t have jobs, but that didn’t scare us. We were told that having children would be unlikely, that didn’t scare us either. My childhood tools of faith and prayers were utilized again. Gd miraculously had opened doors for us. First, I was a hired as a speech therapist for a public school, even though I didn’t have my masters at the time. My husband was hired by an accounting firm, that allowed him to take off on Shabatt (which was not typically done at that time). After a year of marriage, I got pregnant and was accepted to the St. John’s Speech language pathology graduate program. Three years later we bought our first home. All due to G-d’s endless mercy and kindness.
In my adult stage of life, I encountered more and more women who were broken as a result of toxic relationships. They were alienated and blamed for their circumstances. I couldn’t understand how people can add more pain to someone already hurting. Gd instructs us to love others as ourselves. So I did just that. Not because I’m better than anyone else, but because It is what we are instructed to do. There was a point where my own pain of seeing people, I cared about, get abused, was too much to bear, that I stepped away from connecting to Gd. A stage that I thought would never happen. I was not recognizable to others or myself. They say that when you help others, help is sent your way. So one day during my period of disconnection, I had 2 women in my kitchen crying about the struggle they were facing. My natural instinct was to take them to the Ohel (the Lubavitch burial site in Queens).
I prayed with them from the depths of my heart. That next evening I went to a challa event that transformed my life. I met Harabanit Hasia Bokei, a truly remarkable soul. She reminded me of what It was that I connected to as a child. She asked me “why did you stop talking to “aba”? (our father in heaven). Her teaching and guidance empowered me as a woman, as a “bat melech”, daughter of a king. She guided me to empower others, especially single mothers. As of 2019, Shalom Ima was born, a nonprofit organization for single mothers, which provides support and resources. The reason communities exist, is for support, acceptance and unity. We are like a necklace. If one bead falls off, the rest will follow. We each have to do our part to help and inspire in a way that is specific to us. We each have the power of goodness that can bring light to where it is dark.