I am humbled and honored to be nominated as a Bukharian Jewish Woman who inspires.
Some of you may know me from original Facebook group “ what’s for dinner tonight”
My journey in the US started in September 1993 when my family and I immigrated to USA. Went Forest Hills High School, then to York College graduated as an Occupational Therapist. During my first year in OT program I met my awesome husband and have been married for almost 19 years and Baruch HaShem blessed with amazing kids. After reading such amazing inspirational stories my story is no where close but I will give it a shot.
When I got married it was important to me to keep Shabbat, kosher and laws of family purity (tacharat hamishpacha). At that point I didn’t care to cover my hair and or dress modestly. When we had our first child we found out he had serious food allergies was covered in hives… long story short my poor baby was suffering with a big list of food allergies to everything a normal toddler would want to eat: wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, potatoes, fruits, buckwheat, all types of meat except turkey… and list when on and on. It was very difficult and hurtful that my child couldn’t taste the delicious food that was out there. I was distraught, didn’t know what to feed him. Once I attended a shiur where the speaker said if something is not going well in your life, take a minute and think deeper what does Hashem want from you. I was so desperate and thought to myself, our child is allergic to food we eat food and don’t recite Bracha (at that time I only would say Bracha on shabats, and generally was taught that when you recite a Bracha as a married woman your head should be covered) so I decided to saying thank you to Hashem for everything I ate ( reciting Bracha on food) and every-time I would want to say Bracha I would look for something to cover my head with either napkin, hat or even my hand , then I started to experiment with different hats and scarves and over time decided to cover my hair. After exactly two months of my experimenting with Brachas and covering my hair we noticed our son’s list of allergies was decreasing, he was able to tolerate more foods without severe reactions. This is where we started to see Hashem’s Divine presence and his hand in everything. I started to cover my hair and dress modestly since then. What wouldn’t a mom do for her child.
Fast forward, I have been working as an occupational therapist for over 16 years and for past 10 years specializing in working with patients post traumatic brain injury, working with this type of population you learn to appreciate what you are capable of doing physically and cognitively and learn not to take simplest things for granted.
While kids were smaller I was running out of ideas what to cook and opened up a Facebook group “what’s for dinner tonight” it became very popular and successful, I met a lot of people and made life long friends through this group. Also, meanwhile I have been attending lectures to grow spiritually and in general to better myself.
-The Midrash says: “Open up for me an opening like the eye of a needle and in turn I will enlarge it to be an opening through which wagons can enter.” God just needs an opening as big as an eye of the needle. If you take the initiative and allow God to enter in to your life through a tiny hole, you’ll see exponentially greater results.
I came across a lecture that resonated with me, it was a lecture given by our dear Rebbetzen Olga Chaya Tamayev, and her focus was on shalom bait “peace at home”. I found her lectures to be so helpful to my life and my marriage that in my head I would say next time I will bring my friend or neighbor. She was so on point with a lot of issues we dealt with on daily basis and gave tips and pointers as our moms and Grandmothers would, to top it off she is Bukharian, married to Bukharian has Bukharian in-laws and understood our lifestyle well. Over time we saw the benefits of these classes in our marriage, my husband and I decided to host these classes in our home. We would bring Rebbetzen from Brooklyn on weekly basis and invite friends, family, neighbors even our moms joined. It became our passion and our weekly activity.
Rebbetzen has a Shalom Bait workshop that consists of about 8-10 classes, requires one to commit to these classes, it becomes a closed group of about 10-20 ladies where over this span of time we become closer with each other and bond and Rebbetzen shares with us her experiences, advice, tips and tools for happier marriage while incorporating HaShem in every aspect of our lives. She first off empowers us as Bukharian Jewish women, to discover and know our worth, to improve our relationship with Hashem and this effects our relationship with our spouses and other important people in our lives. After completion of the workshop we then organize “Couples’ Event” where husbands would also have a chance to learn.
We started off with about 10 women in our home , then by word of mouth there was a higher demand. 15-20 ladies would sign up for next workshop. We found that we were outgrowing our home, we started hosting it in bigger shuls and venues. With Hashem’s help, my husband’s constant support and Rebbetzen’s willingness to travel to queens we managed to organize these workshops a few times a year. Ladies from all walks of life signed to these workshops some being very religious to very secular, to modern, and we found common ground, which is to save and improve our marriages. So many miracles we witnessed with our lovely ladies ( pregnancies, graduations, child births, so many marriages saved, lives saved, promotions, purchases of new homes and the list goes on and on) In winter 2019 close to 100 married women signed up to our Shalom Bait workshop, we could not turn anyone away we decided to split the groups into three. We had classes Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays so to be able to keep classes as small and intimate as possible, that means we needed Rebbetzen to come to Queens 3 times a week, we had to find sponsors for all three classes, find venues and be able to organize these classes on weekly and daily basis, plus be able to keep track of the groups and their members and be there for them when they had questions and needed emotional support. This time of the year was overwhelming and amazing at the same time. I was astonished but not surprised on how many of our beautiful Jewish women were striving and thriving to improve their relationships with HaShem, with themselves, with their spouses and everyone around them. Baruch HaShem I wasn’t alone this time in organizing these classes, we had great volunteers who were willing to step in and help us set up the chairs and tables, refreshments, find sponsorship and organize these classes. If that wasn’t too much my family was in middle of a move from Queens to Long Island.
-Divine Providence . . . sometimes it’s hidden, and sometimes it’s revealed-
December 25th 2019 4th night of Hanukkah, on my way to one of our classes “Wednesday Class”, it was a quiet evening I was driving from Hewlett in 5 towns to Queens. Five minutes away from my home a car opposite me lost control and collided with my car on high speed head on, I saw bright lights and heard a big bang and didn’t realize what was happening. I felt trapped, I smelled smoke and had burning pain, I was terrified . By the time I realized what was going on, I tried to get out of the car but couldn’t cause the car door was jammed, I rolled down the window and screamed for help. Some guys that were passing by got me out of the car (there were 3 of them, I call them my Angels).
There was a wonderful lady by the sidewalk who held my hand and tried to calm me down, she called my husband and Hatzalah, I was in excruciating pain and in total shock. My husband came to the scene of the accident and was shocked too. Hatzalah guys were so gentle and caring and one of them told me that I am lucky to be alive that usually head on collisions are fatal. I was transported to the closest hospital. After much X-rays and Cat-scans it revealed that I had multiple fractures and possibility of multiple surgeries. I was discharged from hospital after a few days.
I had outpouring support from all the ladies from current groups and prior groups, from friends and families, neighbors and coworkers. We had to get used to being on The receiving end . With guidance of rebbetzen Tamayev, these women prayed for my speedy recovery, organized meal train, sent cleaning help, took care of my kids, filled our fridge, ladies took upon themselves new mitzvot in my merit and baked Challas. Some of the ladies arranged the attorney for me, some arranged me to see best doctors in town for my arm and my foot. Although I was in a lot physical and emotional pain, over time I saw Hashem’s hand throughout this whole ordeal. He sent best people my way and made impossible possible. The hand surgeon was amazed on how my wrist was aligned and miraculously did not need surgery, my podiatrist was also amazed of how well my foot was healing and that possibility of surgery was null. Initially, I got around with a wheelchair, then a cane then Baruch Hashem walked independently. Needed assistance with basic self care tasks, bathing, dressing and even to brush and pick up my hair (my amazing husband would assist in every way possible while being patient and loving throughout) I was disabled for about 3 months and had lingering pains for a while after, I struggled emotionally and was anxious and couldn’t drive. I reached out for professional help and Baruch Hashem learned to cope with my fears.
What I learned from this experience that Hashem was with me and carried me Gently throughout, I saw the beauty of our Bukharian women how selfless and caring we all can be when united for a good cause. I felt so much love and support, every phone call, every text, every email, every delivery and every visit meant so much to me and helped me recover. I am forever blessed and grateful. There isn’t enough words to express my gratitude to our amazing generous community.
When I was approached about this project I contemplated and was hesitant initially, but then after Leya twisted my arm and encouraged me to do this, I felt like I owe it to you all, each and every one of you deserves this nomination, you are all amazing and special and inspirational in your own way.