Where is My Daughter?!

Where is My Daughter?!

The sky was pitch black, and my 13-year-old, Hallel, still wasn’t home from youth group.

Every Shabbat afternoon our older daughters go to youth group and then come home in time for 3rd meal. But this past Shabbat, we washed for seuda shlishit, and ate seuda shlishit, and sang mizmor l’david AND yedid nefesh. We even made havdalah. And still, no Hallel.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell any JewishMOM what kinds of thoughts and fears were running through my head.

Right after havdalah, I called Hallel’s friend from youth group.

“You’re already home?” I asked her.

“Yes, I got home about 45 minutes ago,” She told me.

That was it…I was no longer worried or afraid. I was frantic. Where was my daughter?! Should I call the police or the emergency rooms first?

And then there was a knock on the door. “Shalom! It’s me!” Hallel chirped.

Hallel informed us with a smile that she had been hanging out with a group of friends from youth group outside their clubhouse.

“Do you know how worried I was?” I challenged her. “What were you THINKING? It’s already dark out, you’re an HOUR LATE!”

Hallel was stunned. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you would mind…” and Hallel ran up the stairs crying.

For a minute, I felt a twinge of guilt…but then it disappeared. I knew that I had done the right thing.
When I was a kid I used to go bike riding every Sunday morning to the Pimlico Race Track and back.

But that one Sunday morning 30 years ago I was feeling adventurous. That morning, I biked past the swimming pool and the UBC soccer field and even the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. And I turned right into an apartment complex and rode around for a while. And then I looked at my watch and was suddenly filled with panic…

I had been gone for well over an hour. My mother would be beside herself!

I raced back up the hill to my home, and I ran inside, breathless, and braced myself for my mother’s fury.

My mother was sitting on the sofa reading the New Yorker with a cup of tea beside her, and when I entered the living room she looked up at me and said, “Hi Jenny…did you have a good time?” and when I nodded, she smiled and returned to her magazine.
Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark shared the following true story: A father and his young son stood waiting in silence for the Kindertransport* train that would separate them forever.

“Finally, the lights of the train appeared. As the father lifted his son onto the train, he broke the silence. ‘Zei a gutte Yid—Remain a good Jew,’ he told his son. As the train began to pull out of the station, the father ran alongside yelling, ‘Zei a gutte Yid.’ The train gained speed, and the father kept running after it, screaming, ‘Zei a gutte Yid!’ As he ran, the father tripped and fell prostrate on the station platform.

“That image of his father running after the train and then falling as he desperately tried to implant the message to be a good Jew in his heart remained with the young boy the rest of this life. And he lived up to it, under the most adverse circumstances.”**
I am trying to show my child how much I love him…

I buy him a comic book. I take him out for an ice cream cone. I take him to the bigger and further playground.

I read him a story. I give him a kiss and a hug. I make him a plateful of spaghetti and butter—his favorite.

But sometimes, just sometimes, love looks different than we think it should. And it sounds different too. Sometimes, love sounds like limits and expectations and even anger.

It sounds like, “Zei a gutte Yid,” and “I expect more of you,” and even, “Do you know how worried I was? It’s already dark out, you’re an hour late!”

photo credit: F. C. Photography via photopin cc


  1. zahava miryam

    jenny, u did the right thing. hallel knows how much her family loves her and with all that’s been going on in the neighborhood, she’ll get over it. uv raised ur children well and they are only a handful of children that i know who are truly respectful of others. u and josh should have only nachas from ur kids. ur both fine parents.

  2. Wow, the story of the father yelling “zei a gutte rid” brought me to tears, thank you for the inspiration!

    • shoshana, i had the same response. CHAZAK, chana jenny, thank you for sharing ‘zei a gitter yid’

  3. Were u trying to say that u felt unloved/cared for when your mother wasnt worried that u were gone longer than usual?

    • JewishMom

      I have an amazing, awesome mother who loves me very much. And I’ve always felt and known how much she loves me. But at that moment I felt disappointed that she hadn’t noticed (or at least hadn’t been concerned) that I was gone for longer than usual.

  4. I’m curious: after you saw that your mum wasn’t bothered by your lateness, did that influence you to be less caring about being on time in the future ?
    It’s true that love has many faces, one of them is nagging!! How many times I’ve said to my kids “say thank you you have a mother who cares!” (About their personal hygiene, getting enough sleep, eating healthy……..)

  5. Tamara Schoenfeld

    I once heard a chassidish story of a boy who was sad and crying. When the father asked him what he was crying about he said: “I hid so my friends would look for me, but they didn’t…”
    Chana, you just did the right thing with your daughter!

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