July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As I’m sure many of you can relate, I go through my life wearing many different “hats.” First and foremost, I am an eved Hashem: I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a morah who has the immense privilege of instilling Torah in HKB”H’s beautiful children. In addition to all these pieces of my identity, I carry another title: a divorcee. I wanted to take a moment to share, from the perspective of being a divorced woman, what this time of year is like. While I speak under my name, using my words, I speak for a larger community of women, many of whom have shared their thoughts with me.

Yom Tov season is inevitably a hectic time for most frum families. As our children begin the school year, with new routines, we Jewish mothers are very busy clothing, feeding and homeworking, all while preparing menus, buying, cooking, buying again, and cooking again, and again, and again.

In addition to this busyness, I know when I bump into a fellow divorcee around Yom Tov season, she has another thought haunting her. We share a mutual unspoken bond, an underlying anxiety, as we attempt to figure out how many meals this Yom Tov will bring and how we will create the atmosphere we so desire for our children. We do not have this set up for us. There is no husband who will be coming home from shul, sitting at the head of the table, making kiddush and running the meal.

While we know this is something we experience weekly, as each Shabbat brings the same challenge, somehow when Yom Tov approaches, with so many meals to be accounted for, we are faced intensely with our divorced reality. Alternatively, a good portion of us may be without our children for Yom Tov. Many women are reminded of their painful circumstances, of their hopes and dreams for their marriages that have not been actualized.

Truth be told, there is so much support within the Jewish community. There is no better community to be a part of.

I am reminded of an interaction I had a few years ago during a physical therapy session as I was recovering from a broken ankle. (Another story for another time…) As often happens when sitting next to someone for hours each week, the gentleman on the table next to mine and I would make small talk as we practiced our exercises. He lamented over his challenging situation and explained how incredibly difficult it has been for him to be incapacitated for such an extended period of time. He said that his life has been significantly altered and wondered how I, a mother of four children, was managing to navigate my way through life without the ability to move around. I explained that while it was in fact quite difficult, I actually was receiving an abundance of meals from my friends; six weeks in, I had not had to prepare a meal for my family, and my neighbors and friends had taken on my carpool responsibilities. So while it was hard, it was also doable.

His reaction still stays with me today. He was completely dumbfounded to hear that there is a community in which this kind of support is so readily available. He was curious to know how he, too, could “sign up for this community.” I reflected on how, while of course I appreciated the incredible generosity of my community, I perhaps took for granted how fortunate I am to be a member of klal Yisroel. I found myself whispering to myself, “Mi keamcha Yisroel,” as I hobbled out of PT that day.

It is with this sentiment that I attempt to raise awareness of the reality that divorcees face during this time of year. We are proud to be members of this incredible community. Every single person I meet within this community has a genuine desire to be helpful. Often, I have people ask me if I would mind being invited with other singles, or if it makes me uncomfortable to eat with other intact families. Perhaps they are worried that the divorced guest will feel like a “chesed case.”

There are indeed many variables, and these questions sometimes impede their invitations as they are careful not to make a divorcee uncomfortable. I will admit that we are all different. What makes one person uncomfortable may be a welcome invitation to another. However, we all have one common theme, believe it or not: We all have the ability to say no if it doesn’t work for our circumstances at the moment.

Please do not allow your hesitations to deter you from an invitation. I humbly implore you to stay mindful of our reality and consider us in your Shabbat and Yom Tov planning this year. May we continue to strengthen our community and may we all be granted a year of bracha.


Chana Greenberg is a mother, daughter, sister, friend and morah, who also happens to be divorced.

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