Mothers of Faith

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A year ago I saw an interview with a 47-year-old mother of 19 children named Sima Zalmanov. And she said one thing in that interview that I just can’t get out of my mind.

The interviewer asked her: “My wife is now in the 8th month of her first pregnancy, and she is so uncomfortable, and she complains all the time. And you, Mrs. Zalmanov, have been pregnant pretty much non-stop for the past 27 years! Isn’t it difficult?

I’m sure Mrs. Zalmanov has answered this questions hundreds of times, and I presume it is a question that she has asked herself countless times as well, when her varicose veins ached, and when her overdraft edged further and further away from zero, and when the Zalmanov family pile of laundry loomed large above her head at 2 AM.

Without skipping a beat, Mrs. Zalmanov answered the reporter with the sincere and convincing declaration: “G-d knows what’s best for me.”

And I just can’t forget it.

“G-d knows what’s best for me.



Many years ago, I heard a lecture by prolific author and psychologist Dr. Miriam Adahan that I also haven’t been able to get out of my mind for all these years. She told us that for years and years she wanted nothing more than to have more children.

But her conversation with G-d, she recalled, went something like this…

“G-d, please, this year another baby!”

“Miriam, this year, another book!”

“G-d, please, this year another baby!”

“Miriam, this year, another book!”

G-d knows what’s best for me.



Every Friday night I stop by to see my friend and neighbor Hagit bat Leah, a mother of 5 small children who is presently fighting the battle of her life against a devastating case of cancer. Hagit has hit hard times before. Two years ago her family was homeless for 4 months. But Hagit is always, even at her darkest moments, a shining light of inspiration to everybody who is fortunate enough to know her.

Hagit has the strongest faith of anybody I have ever known. Simple faith (which all of us know is far from simple to acquire). The faith that a beloved, youngest daughter has in her own adoring father.

The purpose of my visits is to cheer up Hagit, but the truth is that Hagit always ends up cheering ME up.

This past Friday night Hagit told me that that day was her 38th birthday. “What are you doing to celebrate your birthday?” I asked her.

“How am I celebrating?” Hagit asked me with that defiant, teasing smile of hers on her lips.

“I exist. That’s how I’m celebrating,” She answered.

G-d knows what’s best for me.


One comment

  1. Elana Mizrahi

    Beautiful and inspiring as always. Thanks Jenny!

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