Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Just Us: The Power of Informal Support Groups

Suri Brand

We are five — the four of us sitting in the courtyard of the bagel shop and the tardy Shevy. There is a chill in the air, but the sun is overhead — a perfect morning for hot chocolate and a buttered sesame bagel. I savor the hot sweetness as I sip my drink and feel myself relaxing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We met while on vacation a few years before — one of those three-day women’s getaways. No husbands, no children, just women of different ages and backgrounds taking a sorely needed break.

The five of us found ourselves sitting at the same table in the dining room, swimming in the same end of the pool, and meeting in the lobby for late-night Boggle.

By the third day, I realized that we had found something rare. In the past few days, I had formed friendships such as I hadn’t had since my seminary days. And I wondered why. What was different—aside from the chance to relax—that allowed us to form such a strong bond in so short a time?

The answer didn’t dawn on me until I went home and picked up my life’s routine again. I realized that our connection was unique because it was formed on common ground that was independent of outside factors.

We women fill so many roles—wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, and, often, breadwinner. And we define ourselves by these roles. When we attend a wedding, we go as “Mrs. So-and-so.” When we are shopping, we are “Shira’s mommy.” At a family simchah, we are “Debbie’s sister,” or “Mrs. Schwartz’s daughter.” This is valuable; after all, it’s important to know who you are and where you fit.

But what happens when you are out of your normal environment? What if you meet people who don’t know you in the context of wife, mother, or co-worker?

You then have the opportunity to be just you and connect with other women simply because your personalities click — not because you’re neighbors or because your husbands are chavrusas.

Although the five of us had spent only three days together, and our neighborhoods and ages were diverse, we became, and have remained, fast friends — a proof of the tried-and-true Chazal that friendships independent of outside factors are the ones that endure.

At first, we got together a couple of times and met again at the next getaway, but our busy lives and disparate locales didn’t allow for more. Then, a few months ago, each of us was going through particularly challenging periods. Shevy’s burn accident, sudden financial strains, difficult children, a new business to run, made us suddenly realize that our get-togethers were not a luxury. We decided to meet regularly, once a month.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah