By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Divorce can be the most traumatic life-altering experiences, leaving families bereft and broken. For the Torah-observant Jew, divorce can be even more traumatic. It represents the breakup of the cornerstone of Jewish life. up of the cornerstone of Jewish life. Many religious divorcees and their children often feel an acute social stigma from their community. Yet divorce is a growing issue in the Jewish community. The UJA Federation of New York’s 2011 Community Study found the divorce rate has increased by 22% since 2002 and that it is an increasing problem among the observant community. In Brooklyn, among Orthodox Jews, divorce rose by over 20%.
The result is often loneliness and isolation, stigma and shame. Other than the passing of a loved one, few experiences in life can be as painful and traumatizing as divorce. Like bereavement, divorce can affect everyone, wreaking havoc and pain. It is a loss for parents and children alike.
The feelings most often expressed at the onset of divorce are panic and uncertainty. How will I cope? How will our children deal with our breakup? What about securing a Get and a Civil Divorce? How will I survive financially? To whom can I turn?
Frum Divorce was formed to help ease these burdens and provide support, education, and community services to divorcees and their children. Through the tireless work and dedication of their staff and volunteers, Frum Divorce offers community-wide lectures, special support groups, referrals, and more, in order to strengthen both children and parents in their time of need.
Their mission is simple as it is vital: “To provide Frum Divorce families and single parents with much needed support to help overcome the trauma and loss of security as they embark on creating a positive, enduring new beginning.”
“We created Frum Divorce to heal the pain felt by parents and their children , in a strong community environment through support groups, community lectures and popular events, said Cantor Benny Rogosnitsky, a founder and board member of Frum Divorce. Cantor Rogosnitsky, who is chazzan of Manhattan’s prestigious Park East Synagogue, discussed Frum Divorce’s mission of helping navigate the divorce process with a specific emphasis on parenting and how to deal with the emotional fallout of separation and divorce.
“There are very few organizations that deal with the aftermath of divorce and how the family is impacted,” he told this author. “Their lives — and the lives of their children — are never the same. Shabbos is a time of spiritual rejuvenation, to anticipate and celebrate. Yet, all too often, divorced men and women view the approach of Shabbos and Yom Tov with a sense of dread. The spirit of Shabbos is lost as they become inundated with worries: Will I be spending another Shabbos or Yom Tov alone, without my children? If my children will be spending Shabbos with me, with whom will my son/daughter sit in shul? Who will invite us for Sukkos? And the questions go on.
“A sad or broken parent can’t be a good parent. Parents must have the emotional tools to to be emotionally well enough to lead a Shabbos table, to be there for their kids. “:
He adds, “We need to make sure that even if this marriage didn’t work, they are still good people who love their children and are responsible for them. Through our special system, programs, initiatives, and resources, Frum Divorce helps divorced parents and their children navigate their reality.”
Highlighting Frum Divorce’s stellar initiatives are the two annual retreats, which take place over the President Day and July Fourth weekends. Each is a unique and wonderful experience, offering guests the opportunity to be inspired and uplifted by Frum Divorce’s signature first-class programming. In addition to featuring a roster of world-renowned rabbanim and speakers who grace each highly anticipated weekend, they offer entertainment and many opportunities for people to meet. Participants of past Shabbatons laud the positive impact of these events.
Frum Divorce will sponsor its Seventh Annual Weekend, SOULMATES — Finding Yours on Friday through Sunday, February 17th — 19th at the RenaissanceHotel in Westchester, New York. The event will feature a world-class roster of speakers and shadchanim as well as five-star accommodations, gourmet Glatt Kosher cuisine, gala Motzei Shabbos entertainment, and personalized matchmaking programs. Guests will be inspired and enlightened by Dr. David Pelcovitz, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, and Rabbi Yechiel Spiro. Featured on the star-studded program are Yehuda Green, Faye Zakheim, Ph.D, and Tova Weinberg, with shadchanim and facilitators Chaim Kiss, Devorah Rosen, and Baila Sebrow.
“The goal of the SOULMATES weekend is to give Frum Divorce members who are serious-minded, an opportunity to be inspired with wonderful, first-class lectures, beautiful davening, gourmet dining, and an outstanding program,” said Cantor Rogosnitsky. “For the first time, we will be focusing mainly on shidduchim and opportunities for people to meet, and on lectures that are focused on helping people find their soulmates.”
This weekend is geared to all those who are divorced and have a Get. It is, however, also open to individuals who have never been married, and would seriously consider marrying a divorcee. It is also open to those who are widowed. Chaired by Naomi Mauer, Associate Editor of the Jewish Press, the SOULMATES weekend has been orchestrated to perfection, promising to be an outstanding and inspiring Shabbos experience.
To register for SOULMATES, please go to Frumdivorce.com.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator who writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. The author welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.