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SisterSchmooze: Kiruv Chronicles

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

Outreach professionals do a fantastic job of bringing people closer to Torah observance. But you don’t have to be a professional to be involved in the kind of “kiruv” that means shortening the distance between Jew and Jew.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Two women share a hospital waiting room, one wearing a snood and long skirt, the other in a sleeveless sundress. Both have relatives who have just undergone surgery. The two have been banished from the recovery room by a no-nonsense head nurse. The nonobservant woman — let’s call her Ida — speaks only Russian; the frum woman’s Russian is nonexistent. She manages, through sign language, to offer the Russian lady a cup of tea and a cookie. The two exchange smiles. Ida suggests, via hand motions, that they nap on the hard chairs. After some hours and several failed attempts at getting in to see their loved ones, Ida calls someone and hands the phone to the frum woman. The Russian-Hebrew speaker at the other end explains that Ida just wants to say goodbye to her daughter in the recovery room and go home. The frum woman does a bit of begging, Ida gets in, bids her daughter farewell, and prepares to leave. The two “recovery room refugees” look at each other. They’d shared experiences (and no words) for a few hours, they both had loved ones in pain, they’d drunk cups of tea together. It was enough. They exchange kisses. The emotion is real. They’ve become friends. Oh, by the way, the frum woman is Schmoozing Sister Miriam. And this is kiruv.

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