In a series of articles about the Efrat organization, Arutz Sheva presents a number of personal stories and anecdotes relating the group's life-saving activities. This week’s article centers on Devora, who first encountered the Efrat organization while working as a counselor for international youths visiting Israel.
“I was born and raised in Brazil,” Devora recounted,” but I always felt great love for the Land of Israel, and so I began to work as a group counselor for teenagers visiting Israel from abroad. One day, we were touring Jerusalem. One of our stops was the Efrat organization’s offices.”
During the group’s visit, Dr. Schossheim spoke to the youths, and left a marked impression on Devora. The lecture remained close to Devora’s heart, and she remembered its subject matter when, a few months later, upon her return to Brazil, Devora found out she was expecting.
“It came as a complete and utter shock,” Devora recalled. “My husband, who was searching for a way out of our marriage, decided the time was right and filed for divorce. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Devora’s family encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy. They could not fathom her raising a child on her own. “How will you be able to continue to guide groups in Israel with a baby on board?” they declared.
Devora felt that if she would continue with the pregnancy, she would be forced to abandon her sole source of income, and did not know how she could possibly find new employment with a burgeoning belly.
“I felt as if I could not cope with the situation. I stopped sleeping, torn between my desire to be a mother and the reality of raising a child on my own without my family’s support.”
Then, Devora remembered her visit to Efrat, and decided to call the organization. Luckily, Dr. Schossheim was in his office and Devora was able to speak to him directly. She found their discussion to be more than encouraging.
“I told him that I was divorced and pregnant. He promised to put me in tough with a family within the Brazilian Jewish community. They would help me throughout my pregnancy.”
Dr. Schossheim stood by his word. Devora received weekly correspondences from the Efrat organization; mini “check-ups” to see that she was doing all right and that she was staying calm.
Devora gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, who she named Efrat. It was the perfect name for her daughter; Devora couldn’t imagine naming her anything else. After giving birth, Devora decided to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel). She knew that in Israel, she would feel much more at home than in Brazil.
By the time Devora arrived in Israel, Efrat was already 18 months old. The Efrat organization assigned Devora a volunteer, who helped her out with all of her aliyah and absorption needs.
A short while later, Devora was introduced to a man and fellow new oleh (immigrant). The two were married.
“He loves my Efrat as if she were own daughter,” Devora exclaimed.
“Once my new life in Israel as a married woman had begun to settle, I took a trip to the Efrat offices and met against with Dr. Schossheim. I wanted to introduce my daughter to him. My excitement levels were sky-high. I told him that I knew that it was only because of the Efrat organization that I was back on my feet. If I would have had an abortion I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. It is only because of Efrat that I was able to muster the strength to continue with the pregnancy and give life to my daughter, which ultimately encouraged me to make aliyah and fulfill my dream of living in Israel.”
Today, Devora volunteers with the Efrat organization and shares her story with everyone who will listen. She finds it imperative to tell others that they must know that there is always someone who will be by their side, ready help them, when life seems too difficult to bear.