45 Single Mothers Celebrate the Seder by Debbie Shapiro
Last night, I received a phone call from Malka Yarom. Malka is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.
Her organization “Em Habanim” provides support for single mothers and their children: counseling, tutoring programs for the youngsters, short vacations, and yes, a Pesach seder.
When she called me last night at close to midnight, I could hear the desperation in her voice.
“Debbie,” she said, “we have 45 mothers coming – and together with three hosting families, who are personally involved year-round with helping these mothers on an almost daily basis – we are 250 people. We rented a yeshiva dorm for the first day Yom Tov, and all the meals are catered, but we might have to cancel as I have no way to pay for it.”
She paused for a moment and then continued, “But these young women have nowhere else to go. A lot of our mothers are baalei teshuva. It’s so hard for their children to be invited to strangers, where they are seen as the ‘nebuchs.’ And for those with large frum extended families, well, Pesach is a real family time. The host fathers are busy with their own children, and these kids end up feeling very left out; very different. Here, at our seder, they are the center of everyone’s attention.
“We make three beautiful Sedorim: one Litvish, one Chassidish and one Sefardi, and then everyone joins together for the meal and singing at the end. Each child receives a beautiful afikomen gift and there are all kinds of prizes and nosh as incentives for participating in the Seder. For many of our mothers, and their children, this is the highlight of their year.”
Malka’s organization is one that is very close to my heart.
My youngest daughter was trying to get a divorce for close to two years, and during that time, as well as after her divorce, Em Habanim was there to give her the emotional support she needed to cope with her challenges, including parenting classes and outings with other single mothers. Erev Sukkos, they sent a team of men to her house to build a Sukkah. Her three-year-old son was not obligated in the mitzvah of Sukkah, but, as Malka explained, “We want the kids to be like everyone else. They shouldn’t feel that they are different.”
And that’s why they need a Seder just like everyone else. A Seder where they are not “different.”
Please help this wonderful organization make first day Yom Tov for these very precious — and fragile — families that really have nowhere else to go.
If anyone wants more information, please call me, Debbie Shapiro, on my American phone number: 410-541-9585. If I’m not available, I’ll call you back.
Beit Tikvat Em Habanim
Support Centers for Single Parent Families
4 Satner st. Jerusalem
P.O.B. 34043 Jerusalem 91340
Tel: 02-6517221\ Fax: 02-6522897
Donations can be sent to:
Em Habanim c/o Gubbay
7 Armitage Rd.
London, NW 11 8QT
Em Habanim c/o LeChaim Charities
Route 59, Suite 203, 191
Monsey, New York 10952
THIS year, may we all merit to celebrate the Seder in Yerushalayim habenuyah.