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Writers Reflect

Mishpacha Staff

Words Unleashed Words. Millions of words. For 500 issues, our writers have interviewed and introspected, researched and revised. And written. And written. And written.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Reading stories is very different from interviewing the ones who make the stories. Being a writer, interacting weekly with women from all over the world, has clued me into the greatness of my fellow simple Jew. 

Especially humbling was working on the Mother in the Middle diary serial, being in constant touch with the daughter-in-law who told the story. I always knew it takes a special individual to patiently care for elderly parents with dementia. Hearing of her daily life so intimately, I was awed by the tenderness I saw even in the most trying and abnormal circumstances. When I observe individuals caring for elderly parents in their home, I know that these people are unassuming heroes. 

I was awed by the passion of a woman who spent 15 years of her life believing she had Crohn’s disease (profiled in “Ripping Through My Pain.”) She suffered enormously from side effects of medications she never needed, only to discover after 15 years that she never had the disease to begin with. As a result, she started a foundation to educate those who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Is this one of the wondrous ways G-d had to get her to found this organization with firsthand knowledge but without actually experiencing the disease?

Photo: Shutterstock

For a few months I maintained a chavrusa in Tanya with a psychiatrist from Australia. We met when I wrote the article, “Life After Death” for which I interviewed her on experiencing feelings of guilt after losing a loved one. We went on to write other articles together and created a friendship spanning thousands of miles.

Then there were the heroines I met when researching the article “House on Shaky Ground” about women who stay married to men who’ve become nonobservant. As long as their husbands respect the values their wives are instilling in the children, they remain married, committed to giving their children an intact home. Each voice I heard carried a quiet heartbreak. 

If I wasn’t a writer searching for stories, there are so many women I’d simply pass by in the street. If I noticed them at all, my mind might grind critically: her wig is askew; why does she talk in that hurried tone; what’s up with her? 

But I have heard the stories. While still in school, I learned to parrot the words: ‘Don’t ever judge. You never know what’s going on in another’s life.’ But now experientially, through these stories, I know that you never know what’s going on in a person’s life. Truly. (Excerpted from You Never Know… by Malkie Schulman)

Related Stories

Ripping Through my Pain

As told to Malkie Schulman by Meira (Marci) Reiss

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