We’ve all seen it before: A young woman is engaged to get married and suddenly thinks the entire world revolves around her. And so it was assumed that that was going on when 22-year-old Michal Stern* of Jerusalem called her little sister to tell her that they would be having a small wedding. So small in fact, that even siblings would not attend.
Despite appearances, however, selfishness had nothing to do with it.
Michal is the oldest of the 8. Ever since her father passed away, the Sterns have lived extremely simply. Things were taken over the edge, however, when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Next week, Michal and her chassan will have a small ceremony by her mother’s hospital bedside. The room will not have space for other family members to attend. This is so that her mother can attend without strain on her health, but also because Michal knows that she cannot afford to feed any guests. Her mother can’t afford to buy dresses or suits for her siblings. Rather than cause the family that stress and embarrassment, she has chosen to forego the day she dreamed of since she was a little girl.
Michal and her chassan are among the 45 orphaned brides & grooms registered with Vaad HaRabbanim as getting married this month. A fund has been opened to help brides like Michal afford a simple ceremony, sheva brachos meals, and a place to live stocked with the essentials for after marriage.
The fund page also includes a heartfelt letter from Rav Binyamin Finkel, who laments the fact that these young people have “no one to turn to for help.”
*Details have been changed to protect the orphans’ privacy.