Women Who Inspire Us

Women Who Inspire Us #4: My anonymous neighbor

Today’s post is the fourth in the Women Who Inspire Us Series.  You can read the previous posts here, in case you haven’t seen them yet.  You may also want to subscribe to my RSS feed, or “like” my Facebook page to catch the upcoming posts.  As always, if you would like to share your inspiration by participating in the series, please contact me.

I’m always happy to interact with my lovely friend, Shoshana Rubli, who was one of my roomies at Neve (443!).  Among many other things, she is a blogger on hiatus.  You can also check out her website.  Many, many thanks for sharing your inspirational woman with us, Shoshana!

Who is a women you find inspirational?

I’m inspired by my neighbor, whose name I won’t reveal.  She’s not the type to want the public recognition, and I think the internet is something very far from her, so I’ll just describe what is so remarkable about her.

Her background is very different from mine. She’s either from New Square and her husband from Borough Park, or vice versa. They live in a basement apartment, with grates for windows.  They seem to have very little money (no dryer, 3rd or 4th hand strollers, she is at home exclusively and her husband learns exclusively).

I don’t see them going out or flying abroad, ever, and her children don’t often have new clothing or toys (this is not characteristic of the Americans in my neighborhood).  She has two children, who were born 15 months apart.  Her youngest sister in America is younger than her 2-year-old daughter.  She looks about 18 years old although I never asked her.

What is inspirational about her (it can be more than one thing, i.e. personality, actions, overcoming hardships)? 

I admire this woman because she always has a smile on her face.  She reaches out to me all the time in big and small ways, and in doing so, invites me to be part of her smiling, satisfied world.  Her polite and friendly husband does the same for my husband.
I am expecting my second child, and when I asked her how difficult it was to have to small, close-in-age children, she refused to call it difficult.  She insisted that she manages, and that I would manage.  She bolstered my confidence by saying that if I managed with one, I would certainly be fine with two.  Our daughters are friends and playmates, and that brings me a lot of joy.  She wants to ‘adopt’ my daughter when I need to go to the hospital, and in the days after I give birth.  That brings me a lot of comfort.
Can you share a specific memory (or more than one)?
Their apartment has had a leaking problem this year, with dirty plumbing water from all the other apartments seeping gradually into their living room and bedroom.  This went on for months.  The day after the plumbing ‘problem’ turned into a giant flood (I saw her landlord and other male neighbors running in and out of their apartment, dumping buckets of dirty water into the shrubs), I bumped into her in our courtyard and mentioned that I was so sorry it was happening.  Her response was “Oh, that? It’s fine!” with a genuine smile.
She is tremendously devoted to her happy, spirited children.  She speaks to them in Yiddish, and I’m always touched by the endearing tone of the language.  She is always patient and upbeat, without a trace of selfishness or immaturity.  She doesn’t have visible ‘moods’.  She smiles!
She takes a painting class (which she always invites me to) and works on her flower portraits while her son sleeps and her daughter is in Gan.  I get the feeling that she will never need to show these portraits to anyone for approval (although she might choose to share with someone if it will make them happy).  She carries a constant, internal validation.
How do you feel when you think about her?
Please don’t read this and beat yourself up.  I only want to share that women like her really do exist, in our generation.  I know that she must come from tremendous spiritual lineage, and that we have very different starting points.  But can I draw inspiration from that smile?  Yes.  She teaches me that life is incredibly beautiful.  That it’s always worth smiling.
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12 thoughts on “Women Who Inspire Us #4: My anonymous neighbor

  1. I like this post very much. We live in a time when people seek “internal validation” by berating those who are different from themselves. G-d was kind enough to make the world interesting by filling it with people vastly different from ourselves in background, temperament, and skill sets. We can learn from each other and appreciate each other. Shoshana has chosen to celebrate this. Thanks, Shoshana, for bringing the Moshiach one step closer. My bet is that you add color and acceptance to your young neighbor’s life, just as she adds joy and comfort to yours!

  2. So glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for the opportunity, Rivki, and Evie- miss you too!! My ‘davening name’ is Shoshana bas Basya- please daven for easy birth/healthy baby. :)

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