The Orphan’s Ponytail

The Orphan’s Ponytail

Tehila’s* mother passed away 2 years ago. And since she entered 1st grade at my daughters’ school, my girls have sort of adopted her. They make sure Tehila gets on the school bus OK in the morning and they bring her home in the afternoon and they come to the 1st grade classroom every day to play with her and my daughter Moriah during recess etc.

Last week my daughters realized that little Tehila was also in need of another kind of assistance.

Tehila was coming to school every day with her hair down, unlike all the other girls in her class who come to school with their heads topped with an array of ponytails/headbands/barrettes put into place by their mothers.

So we went to the market to buy Tehila some hair elastics and other hair goodies, and since then every morning one of my daughters does Tehila’s hair, just like her devoted mother z”l used to.

One morning, when my oldest daughter Hadas was doing Tehila’s hair, another student asked her why.

My Hadas, not wanting to make Tehila uncomfortable, said simply, “Oh, I just love doing other girls’ hair…”

The inquiring girl then asked Tehila directly, “Why don’t you just make a ponytail at home before you come to school?”

Tehila answered simply, “Well, the problem is that my father doesn’t know how to make ponytails.”

“And your mother doesn’t know how to make a ponytail!?” the girl asked in disbelief.

“Oh yes,” Tehila looked up at her with her big, innocent eyes, “my mother knows how to do hair better than anyone else in the whole world. She makes French braids and pig tails and even knows how to cut hair just like a hairdresser. The only problem is just that my mother is dead…”

When I heard this story, my eyes welled with tears, and I was reminded just how grateful I need to be.

For every kissed boo-boo and for every wiped-away tear and for every single ponytail pulled back and high, just so.

For the simple, incomparable gift of being alive and being somebody’s Eema.

*Not her real name
a small note: In English, the word “orphan” usually refers to a person who has lost both parents. But in Judaism, an orphan is also a person who has lost one parent, like Tehila.

Image courtesy of user Quinn Dombrowski


  1. Thank you for posting such a sweet story. Tehila is a beautiful girl and has accepted her new life situation with much strength and character. May the memory of her mom give her the inspiration to do great things in the world for the Klal.

  2. Yael Maizels

    Thank you for reminding us what to be grateful for.

  3. Thanks for caring about Tehila. I feel for her. My father was niftar 27 years ago and his father 4 months before he was born. That is partly why my husband and I are developing a Mitzvah Project to assist Poor Orphans to set up their Bayit Chadash when getting married. It is a great mitzvah to assist poor Orphans come to Chuppah and to set up their new home.
    Some can consider the difficulties of not having one or both parents to assist with practical details of the wedding, but the heartache of not having one or both parents to walk one to Chuppah is something only another who has experienced it can understand.
    Anyone wanting to assist can visit

    Chagim are often the hardest times. For Tehilla it might be knowing her Mommy could do her hair just right, for me, I have not found anyone to blow Shofar like my late father did.

    Ketiva VeChatima Tova, Shanah Tova UMetuka


  4. beautiful that your girls at such a young age can feel tehilla’s pain and be there for her. may you see much nachat from them.

    • Hadassah Aber

      They must see chessed at home to be able to do this at such a young age. May you have much nachas from them. Being there for a friend is an important life skill, even when the friend is not an orphan.

    • amen, thanks!!!

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