Shulamit: The Mother of 12’s Autistic Daughter

Shulamit: The Mother of 12’s Autistic Daughter

For this year’s Chanukah Contest, I asked readers to nominate mothers who are their personal candle in the darkness, the most inspirational JewishMOM they know. Here is the final semifinalist, Shulamit (Shushu), submitted by Leah Goldberg of Zichron Yaakov, Israel:

My friend Shushu grew up in a wealthy family, cared for by a nanny in a beautiful apartment near the parc Monceau in Paris.

And suddenly…her father lost his fortune and her mother her health. Life became sad and silent. Then her older sister died under tragic circumstances, leaving behind two orphans.

But Shushu is a tough one. At the age of 16 she made aliyah alone and graduated from a French-language high school here.

Then, at 18, she married a young French immigrant like herself.

They settled down in a small yishuv where she opened a beauty parlor to help support her growing family–today they have 12 children. For many years they lived in a caravan, until they could afford to buy a house.

Shushu has faced significant challenges in her life–with strong emuna. She has faced financial difficulties, the challenges of caring for her aging father and sick nephew in her home, as well as her autistic daughter (here is a video that was made about Shushu and that daughter).

As you can imagine, Shushu’s daily life is far from simple. As her friend, I know that sometimes she feels discouraged, like she isn’t succeeding.

But I see, time and time again, that her emuna and her optimism keep her strong.

When she was pregnant with her 12th child, she managed to study a new profession and became a pilates and sports trainer.

On top of helping to support her family, her days are full of cooking, washing, and caring for her family.

She works hard on her relationships with her children as well as with her dear husband, always trying to figure out how to improve her relationships and keep her home a nice, peaceful place.

She helps her married daughters as much as she can, and works on maintaining a pleasant relationship with them and their husbands.

She is now a young grandmother and has discovered how pleasant it is to take care of young children without a parent’s responsibilities!

Shushu is also the proud mother of a soldier in an elite IDF unit. She works on being happy, and not letting herself worry about him.

Shushu is always laughing and smiling, even when it’s hard. Even when she needs rest or money or attention.

She gave me the courage to make aliyah from France 5 years ago. She told me: “All you need is to rent an apartment, buy a fridge and a washing machine, and that’s it!” With Shushu at my side, everything appeared so simple all of a sudden.

I am so grateful to have her as my mentor and my friend!

For me and many others, Shushu’s smile on her beautiful face, despite the challenges she faces, is a light in times of darkness!


  1. “Who is like your nation, Yisrael?!”

  2. Totally awestruck by this woman. There are no words.

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