By Nosson Dubinsky
I have been to many Sheva Brachos, and each one is joyous and wonderful, but something happened last night that surprised everyone including the chosson. Here’s what happened.
I was invited to the sheva brachos because her father, Shimmy, my classmate from yeshiva, wanted his side of the tables to look full. Not many of his friends had stayed in touch with him through his divorce and difficult move from Brooklyn to Monsey.
The kallah, as you’ll soon see, has a small family and limited social circle, as she wasn’t very popular in school. Years ago, her hard-working father, who raised her in a single-parent home, wondered out loud if she would ever find a shidduch.
Finally, right before they finished the meal to start benching, the kallah asked to speak. I’ll never forget how she stood up, faced her chosson, and said, “The truth is, I should not be standing here.”
Everyone stopped eating, and the room fell silent.
“I wasn’t always happy and fun. Instead, I struggled with my self worth, a deep sadness and feeling lonely. Some would have called me broken. But luckily for me, I have a secret group of Big Sisters who helped me realize that I was deserving of love and perfect as I am. They made me happy and gave me a group to belong to. So, dear chosson, please meet my extended family of big sisters sitting to my right.”
Then she turned to her friends and said:
“I am standing here next to my chosson because you have been an integral part of my upbringing and growth.”
Later, I learned that the group of “Big Sisters” were from My Extended Family, which helps children from single-parent homes with excellent weekly social programs, therapy and food and clothing vouchers around yomim tovim.
“Reflecting upon my life’s journey, I cannot help but acknowledge the profound impact you incredible friends had on shaping the person I am today, and I want my chosson to know.”
The kallah then promised to pay it forward. “I will strive to be a source of inspiration, support, and guidance for others, just as you have been for me.”
After the sheva brochos, I understood that the kallah doesn’t come from a small family. I now stand corrected. She is from a large family, a massive loving family, Boruch Hashem, called My Extended Family.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I was impressed with the Big Sisters and told Shimmy. He agreed that they really helped him at a critical time and he asked if I would write it up and let people know because their annual fundraising campaign for My Extended Family only happens once a year.
I personally have never experienced divorce. Not my parents BH, not my siblings. Something about what the kallah shared opened my eyes to a new reality about what it must be like to come from a home where there was a divorce. It’s obviously never the kids fault but the burden some walk around with and the emotional and mental pain is not something we see.
Ashreichem My Extended Family.
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