By a Grateful Shlucha
Unconditional love and acceptance are without a doubt an important mainstay of every individual’s success.
As shluchim, we offer this to so many Jews, helping them to strengthen their self-image and their identities as contributing members of the Jewish Nation.
The children of shluchim, their siblings, and their extended families deserve no less. But support can, at times, feel hard to come by, especially when you have special children with special needs.
In recent years, Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe, now a division of Merkos Suite 302, was formed by shluchim and yungeleit to support parents and siblings of children with special needs and medical hardship. Along with support networks, professional advice, financial aid, and a listening ear, one of the most incredible things Yaldei offers is two-day retreats where parents can get away, give each other chizuk, and simply relax. There have been multiple regional retreats around the USA since Yaldei’s inception, and more are being planned in Europe and South America.
I recently came back from one of Yaldei’s two-day retreats for shluchim parents living in the Northeast USA. It was an experience to be remembered. The two days were filled with activities, informative lectures, delicious meals, and farbrengens that went well into the night.
In just a very short two days, friendships were forged, worries and doubts were laid to rest, suggestions were offered, stories were shared, and hope was kindled.
Firstly, the fact that Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky took the time to come to the retreat and speak to us was extremely strengthening for us all, and it gave us immeasurable comfort. I feel very fortunate to have heard his uplifting words.
Another part of the retreat that was especially moving was a sunset cruise with guest speaker Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz, who stressed the importance of accepting our challenges b’simcha and growing with them. He spoke of the initial struggles every parent has and shared insights from his mentor HaRav Schapiro about how to surmount such challenges.
I also felt particularly empowered by watching a slide-show presented by Rabbi Shlomo and Mrs. Aliza Menkes that depicted the highs and not-so highs of raising a family with multiple children with medical and/or cognitive challenges. Their frank presentation and advice on how to navigate schools and social services gave us all the confidence that our children can go on to lead happy and meaningful lives. Especially heartening were the beautiful photos of their daughter Rivka as a glowing bride.
Rabbi Mendel Samuels gave everyone tremendous encouragement with laughter and personal anecdotes, reassuring those present that there is “shlichus after diagnosis,” that, in fact, this experience enhances – not hinders! – our ability to continue the Rebbe’s work in our communities.
For many, it was their first opportunity to sit with like-minded colleagues in the Rebbe’s workforce and finally be able to share feelings and concerns in an unfettered manner. We could be honest; we could empathize with and give chizuk to one another.
We all left with greater compassion, strengthened commitment, and an extra dose of confidence that we are, indeed, carrying on with the Rebbe’s shlichus, in our homes and beyond.
Yasher kochachem and heartfelt thanks go to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chezky Malamed, David Leib Shur, Gershon Sabol, Sholly Weiser, the entire Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe committee, and all the generous donors for their vision and effort to do all that is possible to support each family in its individual journey.
To get more information, visit www.yaldei.com.
Ed: Starting after Tishre, Yaldei will BE”H be broadcasting weekly podcasts in short bytes of 20-30 minutes each for interested shluchim and Anash worldwide. Along with anonymous Q and A sessions, the podcasts, hosted by Rabbi Mendel Samuels, will feature interviews with rabbonim, parents, and mechanchim, as well as doctors, clinicians, therapists, homeopaths, and more. Visit www.yaldei.com for more information.