The Single Mother’s Blessing by Chaviva Cohen

The Single Mother’s Blessing by Chaviva Cohen

This article is reprinted from Family First Magazine

Waiting for the school bus was one of the things I loved best about mornings, along with the gentle sunshine and the chirp of birdsong. A whole ten minutes spent in the company of other adults.

Our daily conversations revolved around our adventures in raising our little ones. We good-naturedly rehashed their antics and our reactions, weaving humor into our challenges. One Sunday, our morning conversation touched upon the unique challenge of Shabbos. We debated the best strategies for keeping toddlers calm during the meals and kids out of trouble during the long afternoon.

Finally! Here was my chance to get my friends to understand what it was like for me to face these situations as a single mother. “If you find Shabbos challenging, can you imagine what it must be like for me? Sometimes I wish I would grow another arm, so that I could hold the baby while making kiddush, or entertain the kids while serving the soup! And no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get to my kids’ parsha sheets!”

Taken aback by the impossible juggling act I described, one of my neighbors decided to take action. She took it upon herself to find someone to learn with my four-year-old son. That’s how Rabbi Cohen became my Benny’s “big brother.”

Rabbi Cohen stopped by on Shabbos to pick up Benny and take him to Avos Ubanim. He helped Benny practice his reading, and together they reviewed what Benny had learned that week in cheder. The gift of time and attention that Rabbi Cohen gave my little boy did more than just help him keep up in school; it provided him with a sense of security. Although Benny was the man of the house, for one hour a week he was granted the gift of being a little boy.

The weekly arrangement continued for almost two years until I was given another chance at happiness. My engagement was both intensely joyful and extremely busy. The simultaneous juggling of my roles that so characterizes single parenthood was accentuated by my new roles of bride and future stepmother!

My long-awaited wedding day at last arrived. No longer would I feel like a hungry child with my face pressed up to the bakery window, longing for some nourishment. Now I, too, would be whole once more. That gnawing sense of emptiness would soon be a thing of the past. Against all odds, Hashem had brought two lonely half-souls together.

A dear friend’s guest room became the luxurious bridal salon that transformed a harried single mother into a glowing bride enveloped in satin and lace. I sat like a princess and soaked up the outpouring of love. With the last strokes of the makeup artist, my ensemble was complete. The radiance reflected in the mirror was the result of so many prayers.

By midday I sat upon a chair of pure white, reciting Psalms and receiving my ecstatic guests. One by one, the women stepped up and embraced me, showering me with their blessings for a joyful future.

Then Mrs. Cohen arrived. A second before she bent down to whisper something in my ear, something about the look in her eyes prepared me for her request. “Please pray for us, for Nochum ben Meir and Yocheved bas Sarah. Please ask that we be granted another child.”

I nodded and felt my inner perspective shift. Until then, I had seen only the stability and warmth of their intact home. I hadn’t even noticed her pain, the aching void that had accompanied her through months and years of waiting for another child. I squeezed her hand. Today was my wedding day, my personal Yom Kippur. Today was my chance to give to the Cohens.

I prayed for the Cohens, but I believe it was the countless hours that Rabbi Cohen had invested in my little boy that empowered my prayer that day.

For nine months and one day later, the Cohens were granted another son of their own.


  1. Talk about a good JewishMOM weeping session.
    Thank you!

  2. a real tear-jerker
    and the cohen’s are truly special to be able to see beyond their own pain in such a significant way.

    olam chesed yibane

  3. I have chills going up and down my body now. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece!

  4. so beautiful. blessings and caring are their own reward. It is nice to see it come b’gashmius as well. Thanks for a wonderful story.

  5. WHOAH. That is amazing!

  6. Susanna Rossen

    Thank you! I am in awe!

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