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When the Impossible Becomes Possible

Mishpacha Contributors

Enter the lives of four very special teens who made things happen. With hard work, passion, perseverance — and plenty of help from Above — you, too, can make the impossible possible

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

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A t the shore of a raging sea, the cold winds blew furiously and the roar of the waves was silenced only by the cries of our people. 

Then the unthinkable happened. The impossible became possible. The sea miraculously split into 12 paths, leading our weary nation to freedom. 

I cannot do this...

What, me? Not possible for me in my situation…

The timing is not right…

I am not good enough for this...

I should leave this job for someone else... 

Enter the lives of four very special teens who made things happen. With hard work, passion, perseverance — and plenty of help from Above — you, too, can make the impossible possible. Try it!

Getting There

Rivka Berman

I. Would. Make. This. Happen. I would! The quest for friendship between Popular Queen and Yours Truly was on.

Oh, I had some friends, but when Shevy Rothner joined my class, almost within reach — this close! — you thought I would be satisfied with my few nondescript friends

To make things even more enticing, Shevy lived just one block from me. When we walked home from school together, I would always try to be cute and nice. I listened to her, empathized, schmoozed, threw in sharp rejoinders to show off my wit. Whatever it took for her to enjoy my company.

The times when my efforts were validated were what kept me going. At one point during the year, I had an ingrown toenail permanently removed. Keeping my left foot in a shoe was painful. For days, I hobbled around with one foot clad in a Sperry and the other halfway out of a shoe, as protection from the concrete streets. I felt awkward in my conspicuous hitch, but guess what — Shevy seemed impressed. She found it cool that I walked oddly, yet full of confidence, down the avenue. I held onto that; she liked something about me. Hurray! My hunger for our friendship was now fed and I was eager for more licks.

But mostly, I was usually left with a stinging feeling after those walks home. Shevy favored the companionship of the other girls walking with us.

I needed some one-on-one bonding time with her, too. Friday mornings brought on another set of nerves. I had no menuchah until I called Shevy to invite myself over for Shabbos afternoon. No, I had no menuchah until I finished that call.

Being a risk taker, I’d sometimes pop in without scheduling beforehand. An innocent, friendly visit added another punch to my emotions.

Once, I knocked on the door with great trepidation. How would she react to my surprise appearance Her sister opened the door.

“Good Shabbos,” I said. “Is Shevy home” Oh, how typical. She’s out and I went through all this angst to have to leave in shame.

But no. Her sister disappeared into the house to fetch big sis.

She finally returned, alone. “She’s sleeping. She said she doesn’t have patience to get out of bed,” her sister added flippantly.

Words that set up earthquakes in my heart. No. She’s not sleeping. She’d rather lie in bed and squint at the ceiling than spend time with me. What’s so unappealing about me anyway?

You’d think I would be deterred. I wasn’t. I kept on trying, calling her with homework questions or to schmooze… (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Teen Pages, Issue 37)

Diving In

Rochel Grunewald

It was impossible. Wasn’t it? All we had was a pool, a meeting, and a dream.

When I attended seminary in another city, I looked to volunteer with the special-needs population, something I had done while in high school. Surprised to discover that there was no after-school program for these children, a friend and I set off to provide our own.

We decided on swim sessions. Sunday afternoon, our free half-day, was the perfect time. And there was a community center only 15 minutes away, boasting its very own pool. What could be better

The timing, apparently, for one thing. Despite our enthusiasm, most of our sem mates couldn’t muster up the same eagerness for giving up their entire Sunday afternoon, week after week. After some time, we amassed a detailed list of “regulars,” including volunteers who were happy to come either once a month, every two weeks, or — our favorites — those precious few who committed to come most weeks, unless they had urgent errands. And even when we were joined by a dedicated third partner, the logistics of insuring that we had the legal ratio of volunteers to children proved a weekly nightmare.

The money was another issue. Hiring a pool, lifeguard, and transportation for several children with varying degrees of disabilities was a costly business. Since our program had to include door-to-door service for the children (or we wouldn’t be much use to parents with large families, busy lives, and many without a car), we had to call several taxis and organize sensible routes for them to pick up as many children as possible at each stop. Some of the cars would have to be wheelchair accessible, adding to the hassle. Later in the year, we rented a van and driver each week, which mitigated the costs somewhat, but not very much. So we fundraised among friends and relatives, and relied on miracles.

Then there were the minor issues. The week we had no lifeguard. The week a five-year-old child locked herself in a changing room and wouldn’t come out. The time we were down to two volunteers for nine children — a half-hour until the swim session was to start.


Sometimes, I felt like we had dived into the deep end without so much as a life vest, and without even learning to swim first.

But STAR — the name we bestowed upon our fledgling organization even before we had a concrete plan to make it happen — remained afloat. With siyata d’Shmaya, volunteers were found last-minute, a couple of on-call lifeguards made their way to the contact list on my phone, joining the taxi drivers and John from the community center, whose unpredictable mood swings were another source of anxiety. Week after week, despite exams and shopping trips and hectic sem life, the STAR swim session took place… (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Teen Pages, Issue 37)

Skirting the Issue

Rikki Ellison

It is short. No squinting, stretching, or tugging would convince me otherwise.

It’s strange how this skirt somehow finagled position of Most Grabbed Item in my closet.

I’d picked up the skirt in Geula, on a trip to Israel last summer. I’d landed in my maroon skirt, and opened my suitcase to change, and come up with just air. Apparently, I’d left my skirt hanger full of skirts back home. Sending them via UPS wasn’t an option so I ran to the closest shop in Geula to buy whatever I could find. It was an eeny-meeny-miny-moe kind of decision; I’d just choose whichever skirt looked most decent.

I purchased a black skirt of a mesh-type material that was in then, and it soon became my trusty black skirt. It had a touch of stylish flair and was super comfortable. I’d worn it throughout my trip, to Kever Rochel and the Kosel as well as kayaking. Now, a year later, I’m still wearing it.

Although I shouldn’t be.

I’d convinced myself for a while, telling myself that it just seemed shorter when I looked from above. I blamed it on the angle. For everyone else, I assured myself, it looked long enough.

I told myself it’s just the few pounds I gained. No need to dump the skirt; I’d just dump the pounds. But, alas, the ice cream and cake were going nowhere fast and neither was the extra poundage.

Then, I persuaded my better self that it had just shrunk in the dryer. It must’ve gotten in there, somehow, and I vowed never to make that mistake again. Instead, I washed it again and pulled and yanked it before I wore it again.

If I’d been honest, I should’ve admitted that all the pulling the world wouldn’t change things.

My good ol’ black skirt was too short.

Despite the ever-present knowledge, I kept telling myself that I’d just wear it one more time. Or that I didn’t realize I was wearing it again. Or I’d tell myself I wouldn’t touch it again, but that resolution went out the window when I realized I definitely had a lack of practical, comfy, decent black skirts to wear. It just wasn’t a possibility to get rid of it.

It was a Friday when I realized this had to stop. I was wearing the black skirt again, tugging and yanking, but of course not meeting the required below-the-knee length.

I said aloud to myself, “You are going to take this skirt off and never wear it again.”

But then Sunday dawned, and my resolution was tested… (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Teen Pages, Issue 37)


Mission Possible

As told to Ahuva Sofer

We all have our challenges. We all get discouraged. My struggles gave me plenty of opportunities to throw up my hands and give up, but I didn’t. I never stopped hoping and davening for the impossible. And I did it. I am living a seemingly insurmountable life, every day.

I was born with cerebral palsy (CP), a condition resulting from not receiving enough oxygen at birth. To explain what it is in short Basically, my body doesn’t listen to what I want it to do. Sometimes, I want it to do one thing and it will do the complete opposite. Needless to say, my childhood and teen years offered opportunities for plenty of trials and tribulations.

But my biggest challenge came during my shidduchim years. Living and functioning with CP is a challenge on its own, but getting married is a different story altogether. It wasn’t easy to watch my sister, who is just one year older than me, get married eight years before I did. It wasn’t easy knowing that I might be hoping for what would never be. But, I never thought about giving up on what I believed I could have. So I continued hoping and davening every day that I would find my zivug.

Right before I got engaged, I had to switch jobs and started doing volunteer work in a nursing home. After meeting me just twice, my new boss announced, “I have a shidduch for you.” From the minute the shidduch was suggested until the time I was engaged, I didn’t stop davening. Every Shabbos, I sat down and said the entire Sefer Tehillim. And my prayers were finally answered… (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Teen Pages, Issue 37)

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