A Woman of Valour I Have Found

A Woman of Valour I Have Found

Back home in Israel, I’m used to waving goodbye to my school-age kids at my front door in the morning and and not seeing them again until they arrive at my front door that afternoon.

But here in Baltimore, where I’m visiting my parents for 2 weeks, that usually isn’t possible. The Jewish schools, in most cases, are located very far from where people live. A JewishMOM around here without a minivan is like a JewishMOM without a kitchen or a phone or, even, a right hand.

Hundreds of kids wandering around a parking lot packed full of minivans driving around? That sounds like, G-d forbid, a recipe for disaster… So the school where Yoel’s attending camp came up with a solution. The office assigns each car a parking spot with a number, so the kids know where to go and the parents know where to wait for them. And then counselors direct the minivans out of the parking lot, so they are soon on their merry way.

A smart system. Only problem was that the office hadn’t sent us a number.

So the first day of camp my dad and I were sitting in parking spot 46.

And then a mother in a blue headscarf showed up in a silver minivan.

“You are in my spot!” Mrs. 46 called out her window.

“I’m so sorry! We’ll move…” I called back.

“What is your number?”

“We asked for one, but they didn’t send us a number. Anyway, we’re only here for two weeks…”

“But you’re going to need a number!”

First thing the next morning I paid a visit to the office. There were no numbers left, so the camp director gave me a carpool pass, so I could wait for Yoel right by the entrance.

At pick-up time that day, I was standing by the entrance when a woman started speaking to me. I didn’t recognize who it was until I realized– it was Mrs. 46…

“I wanted to tell you,” she said, “that I am working on my midos, of which I have none, and I have realized that this parking lot is very bad for my midos. So I have decided that I am not parking there any more. I am giving you my spot, and from now on I will be parking outside of the gate.”

I protested, “That is so nice of you! But it’s really not necessary…we received a carpool pass.”

But there was no convincing Mrs. 46. “No, this parking lot is not good for my midos. I’ve had enough of it!”

I know this is a very simple story, but when I think of it, it brings tears to my eyes.

To think of the quiet but determined efforts of this JewishMOM who is working day by day, whittling and smoothing away the rougher parts of herself.

I read a poem this week about the three kidnapped boys HY”D, and their heroic mothers. And the poem pointed out that Rachel, Iris, and Bat-Galim, the three mothers who inspired the entire Jewish nation with their diamond-hard faith throughout this nightmare, were not born the day their sons were kidnapped.

The gestation period of their faith, their trust, their optimism, their unshakable love of the Jewish people was a lifetime long, the product of decades upon decades spent whittling and smoothing away the rougher places of their hearts.

Which reminded me that the path to greatness can’t be traveled by plane or express train.

The path to greatness can only be traveled slowly. Step by step. Struggle by struggle. Whittling and smoothing day by day.

It’s a path traveled by foot.

Or bicycle.

Or, best yet, by minivan:)


  1. Bracha Goetz


  2. I can’t imagine kids going to a parking lot to wait at numbered spaces for their moms. It sounds to me like a recipe for disaster. I hope you are enjoying your family time. Were all your children able to come along on this trip?

  3. Loved this post!

    It is true. A parking lot is often a test for one’s middos!

  4. I’ve got chills from this piece. Thank you.
    CJ, i love that your able to experience of a bit of the JewishMOM in Chul life so you can share that with us too 🙂 So familiar to many of us and now you get a handle on both ends

  5. Chana Jenny, I am reading this post and I am laughing through my tears because I live in Baltimore, and I can surmise which school this is (truthfully, all the schools here have the same huge parking lot situation and similar systems). To paraphrase Pirkei Avos, I say that in Baltimore you can know a person by 3 things, Bkiso, bkaaso and b’carpoolo! Sorry that we couldn’t get together during your visit.

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