A few months ago, I wrote about starting my chesed project with the “Cohen” family who…didn’t really seem to need much help.  I remember being confused as to why a stay-at-home mom of three healthy kids needed my help when people like my roommate were helping families with totally incapacitated kids.  Whatever the reason, I got assigned to this family, and I haven’t questioned it…what do I know about how this chesed system works?

And then I went to this one family for Shabbos; they live in my Jerusalem neighborhood and I get set up with them through my school’s Shabbos placement program.  I’m pretty sure they’re both affiliated with the seminary.  Anyway, so this family has six kids under 15, and the most luxurious house I’ve ever seen in Jerusalem.  Even having two stories is something rare over here (my apartment has that, but there are also nine of us living there), but it was more than that.  They had totally redone their kitchen, and it had two of everything (making keeping kosher really easy).  Now, in kosher homes, two ovens is standard, but two dishwashers?!  Most Israelis don’t even have one.  And they also had an island in the middle of the kitchen (also something I’d never seen in Jerusalem), and ridiculous amounts of counter space.  There were also I think five bedrooms and ample living room space for them, their six kids, and the seven guests they had for that Shabbos meal.

And then I gave them regards from my flatmate V., on her request.  The response was enthusiastic: “Oooh, V.! We love her!  She used to be our chessed girl!”  And I think my jaw hit the ground, because why in the world would THIS family have needed chessed?!  They were just so put-together; amazingly well-behaved kids, wonderful hosts, clean house, amazing food, and I just don’t know what they would have even needed help with.

Who would have thought…?

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1 Response to Perspective

  1. David Schwartz says:

    Something I try to keep in mind as I work with my middle schoolers is that even the most seemingly well-put together kid has troubles of their own, both at home and even school issues that lie beneath the surface. I guess the same thing is true of families.

    Also, last year I volunteered to help the Drama teacher with the 8th grade musical that the entire grade acts on stage for. I didn’t have much drama experience, but she wanted help with crowd control and 8 years now of camp has given me that skill. What ended up happening was that I went to every rehearsal for which I wasn’t already booked and I did a variety of odd jobs, including running the spotlight for the show. For this year, being Drama Assistant was built into my schedule, each class once a week and the full-grade rehearsal each week. There was one week that I was going to have to potentially miss a full-grade rehearsal. I mentioned this to the teacher and she had a minor panic attack about me not being there. This really surprised me – she doesn’t use me much, and besides pressing the play button on the music I could just as easily not be there. I don’t even do much crowd control. Still, the fact that she was that concerned about me not being there made me realize that perhaps I was being more helpful than I realized, even if it was just psychologically knowing that another adult was in the room with you and an entire grade of students. Like we have tried to teach the 8th graders in Lit class from reading To Kill A Mockingbird, it seems you can’t judge a book (or situation) by it’s cover.

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