By Rivky Herman, MS
Just over four months ago, I had the z’chus of hosting a challah-bake event in my home in Queens for single girls in need of a shidduch. It was a truly incredible evening that left me more inspired than ever to play an active role in helping others navigate through the shidduch parashah.
Goldy Krantz wrote an excellent article as a follow-up to the event, calling for community-wide awareness and action in this area. I now wish to share just a taste of the feedback I received regarding the event and to echo Goldy’s message regarding community-wide action.
The first responses I received regarding the event were from the girls in attendance. I will not go into great detail; however, I will say that their expression of hakaras ha’tov touched me deeply.
One particular girl, who has been in shidduchim for more than 15 years, traveled a distance to participate in the event. I had not known her prior to that evening, yet she quickly became a friend. She hugged me, and with tears in her eyes, simply, but with such sincerity, whispered “thank you.” It was unnecessary for her to say more. Her eyes, hug, and two words said it all.
My eyes burned and my heart ached as I longed to know someone special with whom to set her up. I promised myself that I would network on her behalf and do anything I could to find someone suitable to set her up with. No one I personally knew came to mind. However, I have friends, relatives, and other contacts living in other communities who might know of someone for her.
I received photos via eâ€‘mail on erev Shabbos of girls smiling as they held their beautiful freshly baked challahs. On Friday night, as I bit into a piece of my challah, I felt connected to all of the girls who shared the berachah on hafrashas challah with me.
Prior to the event, I “paired” each girl with a couple experiencing fertility difficulties in the hope that their tefillos could be a z’chus for each other. Girls followed up with me after the challah bake requesting updates on the childless couple they were paired with. They wanted to be notified when the couple no longer needs tefillos. They felt a sense of connection to their couple.
Throughout the days, weeks, and months following the event, I received eâ€‘mails and phone calls from friends and strangers with positive feedback. People in the community excitedly told me in shul that they read the “Challah Bake articles.” Just a few weeks ago, a woman I knew only by sight approached me to share that reading about the event touched her on a personal level. In the local pizza store, someone asked my brother when the cholent event for boys in shidduchim would be taking place. (We are still working on that!)
Yet as days fold into weeks and weeks transform into months, the experience is beginning to feel like a dream. My hope is for the challah bake event to be more than simply a one-time phenomenon.
The girls joined together from varied communities and formed a “challah-bake chevrah.” My goal is to create a ripple effect of action and connection in the community.
Those in shidduchim often hear others sympathetically say, “I wish I knew someone for you. I just don’t know anyone.” I must say that I did not know several of the girls who attended the challah bake. I networked with girls in different communities. I mentioned my idea to just a few friends, and a few names transformed into a waiting list of girls who wished to attend. People know people.
Many enjoy playing “Jewish Geography” as they meet others at various events and venues. What does this enjoyable game teach us? We learn from just a few moments of speaking how quickly strangers can discover that they are connected. Yet people discover the most unlikely connections all too frequently in hindsight, subsequent to meeting.
I would like to make a proposition. Let us, as a community, as a klal, transform hindsight into foresight! Let us actively network on behalf of others. Each one of us can ask family members and friends in different communities if they might know of a potential shidduch idea for someone.
We can build connections as we transform a sympathetic “I just don’t know anyone” into “Perhaps my cousin might know someone in her community.” We must create a global game of “Jewish Geography”–in foresight.
The challah bake taught me a valuable lesson. In just days, and with a little networking, I could create a chevrah from individuals who shared a commonality. Relationships were formed between girls of varied ages, backgrounds, and communities from just a few phone calls.
Why shouldn’t the same be achieved for the purposes of making shidduchim? Let us all, regardless of where we live or how many people who are single that we personally know, take part in this project. Let us connect, unite, and keep the impact of the Challah Bake for Shidduchim alive.
I wanted to present the girls at the challah bake with a perfect challah recipe. Perhaps this initiative and the lesson I learned from the event could take that recipe to the next level and become the recipe for action in shidduchim. As we welcome in a new year, how wonderful it would be if we could join together and make “From Challahs to Kallahs” a reality!Â v
Rivky Herman, MS, CCC-SLP, TSSLD/Bi, is a medical therapist at the Infant and Child Learning Center of Downstate Medical Center.