Hidden Gems For Your Toolbox

By Helena Cohen


My eyes are always open and looking for tools to help me and my family navigate different parts of life.  The more equipped we are with different tools in our toolbox, the better prepared we are for the unknown and potentially difficult roads ahead.  Having a toolbox filled with knowledge, resources, and skills to navigate life positions us to be more likely to continue on our journey with strength, confidence, and success.

Recently I stumbled upon a gem in our community that seems to be hidden and I hope to expose it and reveal the tremendous potential it has to provide single and married women [with and without children] with information, education, and guidance. SHALVA supports Jewish women experiencing and healing from domestic abuse, through counseling, supportive services, and community education. Yet in addition to the incredible work they provide for women in abusive relationships, SHALVA ALSO works on prevention – to educate ALL single women and parents of girls in shidduchim how to approach dating with a clear understanding of what healthy relationships look like.  We might think that that should be a given, but it’s not. In today’s tumultuous world, having a full toolbox with options with which to use in the appropriate times is necessary rather than optional.

Knowledge is powerful and SHALVA offers organizations and any small groups of women the opportunity to host different workshops to educate the women of our community.  Before Pesach this year I hosted a workshop in my home for mothers of girls in shidduchim. The room was full. There were first-time mothers and many time mothers. Esther Yona Friedman, who is SHALVA’s Orthodox Rabbinic Task Force Coordinator, led a two-hour workshop and discussion educating us how to support ourselves and our daughters through the dating process by listening to and trusting our daughters, understanding the importance of self-awareness, and recognizing when our daughters feel secure and confident.  We also touched on the dating process itself, how to do research, what type of questions to ask, and how to identify and look for ‘red flags.’

The need for support, information, and guidance is so clear.  The desire for more information and guidance is so PRESENT. Being with a group of women from all different stages of the dating process was a supportive environment, allowing mothers to ask questions and hear common concerns.  Esther Yona was a patient, informative, and empathic presenter with so much to offer from her training and years of experience working for SHALVA. SHALVA offers many different workshops, including workshops for girls in shidduchim which I hope to host in the future.  Any interested women, shul, school or other organizations can get a group together and host a workshop. Please contact Samantha Spolter, SHALVA’s Orthodox Community Education and Outreach Coordinator, at 773-583-HOPE (4673). Don’t we owe it to ourselves and our children to fill our toolboxes?