First of all the good news. What a wonderful week! 3 Neve engagements.
The woman who made one of those shidduchin is Dorraine Weiss, who deserves special mention because in so many ways she is a real but non-stereotypical role model. She is around my age (mid hundreds), is formally of L.A., and very much so. Her children learned in Aish there, eventually in AIsh in Eretz Yisrael and now live in Beitar with their wonderful families. She, and her husband Barry didn't want to be left behind spiritually, and they slowly began their journey which took them to making Aliyah. They live in an incredibly interesting and beautiful home (it was featured in the Jerusalem Post) in Abu Tor, a neighborhood between Bakka and the Old City. She solved what some people would have called the "problem" of her aging father by convincing him to join them. He loves it! Instead of spending his days watching TV, he now attends classes at the OU center every morning, is learning and has an entire entourage of friends. He actually (at the age of 95) manages to get there by bus!
At one point Dorraine found herself wondering what the next step for her should be. She did so much, making huge personal changes, Aliyah and learning, but now that she is settled, what new worlds are there for her to conquer? She isn't the type to spend days shopping, lunching, and schmoozing. I encouraged her to be a shadchan. She has wonderful sensitivities and social skills, and is full of chessed (and the entrepreneur in her like the idea of getting paid when she actually sees a couple to the chuppah). She got a list of successful shadchanim, and arranged to meet them to learn the tricks of the trade. Simultaneously she also went online to the frum sites to see their questionnaires in order to figure out how to conduct a shidduch interview. The next step was getting clients. She and her husband are very hospitable, so she began with her guests who came mostly from Aish. Girls came via her friends and their daughter's and from me. She worked hard an entire year. She gives business cards at the end of each interview she had created a three hour interview, in order to be sure that any suggestion that she made would be relevant to who her client is and what they are looking for. If you ever were cross-examined by the FBI, you might know what an interview can be! (She has since refined her method….). Dorraine is even willing to arrange for meetings with her clients in convenient locations (Abu Tor isn't on everyone's inner GPS). Nada. Nothing. Gornisht. Klum. That's what her results were. Lots of near-misses. Some mismatches. No weddings were on her calendar that first year.
What makes this story unique is what happened next.
SHE DIDN'T GIVE UP
The reason that she didn't give up wasn't because she couldn't face having to think of some other mitzvah to fill her time, or because she was so invested in what she started. It was because of only one consideration. She met so many girls (and young men) who really want to get married, and she felt their pain deeply.
Well folks, Sarah's is her tenth shidduch! In honor of this milestone (and also because she is a consummate hostess) she insisted on making the L'I Chaim in her home. She had a lot going on that day, and by the nature of things LiChaim's are kind of last minute. She put it together in just a couple of hours. I finally got to see her home, meet Barry and Papa and see all of the pictures of the grandkids in the area devoted to their photos… It was a most elegant evening and full of the kind of joy that comes when you have no doubts; she was living evidence that the way you want to go is the way Hashem leads you. I told her when she reaches this landmark I would celebrate by taking her out for dinner, so BEH this Wednesday you might catch us out in the fish place on Kanfei.
And yes, this has something to do with Lag B'Omer.
My son Moishe (who some of you know) and his wife Pninah love Lag B'Omer. Getting there with their four little girls (the eldest is six) seemed a formidable task. He decided to see about renting a van, and asked me if any of my friends might want to join them. In the end, four of you guys, two women from the neighborhood and four of Chani's friends (if you don't know my daughter Chani, go back to the cave) all came. It was spacious, air conditioned and the Way to Go. The simchah was in full blast when we arrived. It was sort of between times, so it wasn't even too difficult to enter the actual tomb. The dancing was beyond belief. ON the way home, when we were all tired, I looked around the half sleeping people in the van. Each one of them has a story that took them to being in the van, a story that required determination and uncertain victory. I know most of the stories, some took place in the FSU, or in South America, others are more prosaic and involve making the decision to maximize potentials rather than floating and settling on mediocrity.
I felt the same way when I watched the dancing throngs in Meiron. Most of the crowd were Chassidim, whose parents, grandparents or great grand grandparents were most likely holocaust survivors. Others were Sephardim who had the courage to stick with their emunah in a progressively more secular world. Others still were people whose stories are beyond the limits of my ability to fit them into boxes. It's better that way.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai invited us all to celebrate with him- he said so expressly in the Zohar. We came and had a blast.
All the best,