The Awkward Phone Call and Shavuot

The Awkward Phone Call and Shavuot

This morning I got a phone call from Ulpanat Raaya, the high school my daughter graduated from 2 years ago. “Shalom, we are compiling a network of people who can provide advice to our graduates regarding professional and educational options.”

“Ahh, I am actually the mother. It sounds like you want to be in touch with my daughter, Hadas. I think she’d be happy to help. Do you have her phone number?”

“Well, actually, we are turning to mothers to see if they can be part of our network, to advise students about where they studied or their professions.”

Awkward pause.

“Well, I don’t think I could be so helpful. See…” how do I explain this to this very Israeli girl from my daughter’s very Israeli high school, “I’m, like, an American. And I’m a housewife. And I went to university in America…”

But I felt bad being so slam-the-door-ish, and added….

“So the only students I could be of assistance to would be ones that want to study in America…” Stunned silence at this bizarre possibility, like I have offered my services to any students interested in studying bartending in Papua New Guinea.

After I gave the girl my daughter’s phone number, I hung up and felt unsettled. How is it possible that I have walked this earth for over 4 decades, more than half of them spent in Israel, and have nothing to offer the alumni of Ulpanat Raaya?

But then I thought of something…

Out of the 90 mothers of my daughter’s high school classmates, I am 1 of only 2 Americans, and the 1 and only baalat teshuva.

What I have to offer, maybe, is showing these young woman that 26 years ago, Hadas’ Eema left behind the American dream and everything and everyone she knew to live in the Holy Land, to live a deeply Jewish life and raise a home full of Jewish children to love and keep the Torah.

The Ohr HaChaim teaches that at Mt. Sinai, when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, each commandment would come up to every single Jew and ask, “Do you accept me?”

And every Jew said, “Yes!”

And each commandment cheered with joy for every Jew. And hugged each one. And placed a crown on his head, or hers.

And that is what I imagine has happened every Shavuot ever since.

The Torah cheers, hugs, and crowns each and every one of us. Every single Jew. And maybe especially every Jewish mother? Who accepts the Torah, for herself, and gifts it as well to her children, so we, the Jewish people, will have it in our hearts forever.


  1. Love that experience processed

  2. Chana, I don’t get it. You have written articles for different publications, and you work daily on your goal of inspiring Jewish women. I always thought of you as a WAHM, not a SAHM. Maybe you are the person to show the girls how in addition to the formal academic learning (which you’ve also done) they can take all their assets, strengths and life experiences to create a niche and live their yeud.
    Maybe you should call them back…

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