They have so much to offer. So much to give to a relationship. Yet people shy away from the marriage. Fearful of the unknown.
Malky* has juvenile diabetes. She functions fine. In fact, better than fine. A popular girl throughout her high school years, she was head of the school newspaper in eleventh grade. Her diabetes is under control and she leads a normal life. Chavi* was born with a limp. Extensive therapy has brought her to a good place and she is fully functioning, as capable as anyone in chasing after a mischievous toddler but, so far, there is no toddler in her life. Her friends have several children but she has hardly had one date. Mendy* comes from a dysfunctional home. His maturity far surpasses his that of peers. He is a caring, stable young man who would make a wonderful husband. Moishe’s* life was saved by a bone marrow transplant when he was three years old. For over twenty years, there has been no sign of the cancer returning. But people are scared. Avi* was diagnosed with a mental health issue but those who are with him day in and day out would never guess. Medication allows him to function completely normally and he is well-like and respected in his office.
The shaddchanim (matchmakers) are kind. Gently, they inform their client that, once again, the other party has said (s)he sounds like a wonderful person but…And so years pass by. A decade. And the dreams of these truly wonderful people – totally functional members of our communities – are stymied.
It was this situation that gave birth to Ezer Mizion’s Strike a Match Division, headed by Mrs. Reisner. Each situation is unique. The actual abilities of the perspective chosson (groom) or kallah (bride) must be clearly determined based on a doctor’s assessment. The prognosis and likelihood of defective children must be understood well to be clarified to the ‘other side’. Extreme sensitivity must be employed in allaying the fears of the other side, fears that may be highly unwarranted yet loom large in the minds of the family. That same sensitivity must be able to determine which issue would be a compatible match with which and how to present each to the other side. Tremendous care is taken in researching family genetics to be sure the couple is truly compatible and capable of building a home together.
Rabbi Shimon Rogaway, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Medical Referral Unit, is often consulted as is Rav Chaim Kanievsky.
When the groundwork is done, Mrs. Reisner meets with 5-10 singles per week. Three hundred and fifty of these singles have met, many numerous times, and, to date, there have been 32 mazel tov’s! Half of those thirty-two were the suggestions of Mrs. Reisner, the other half those who sought her advice after the shidduch was suggested by another party. She spent weeks, months holding their hands, investigating, guiding, counseling, referring, consulting with g’dolim (rabbis) and medical advisors, clarifying each issue as it came up.
An estimated 500 people consulted with Mrs. Reisner last year in her capacity as Ezer Mizion’s shadchanit (matchmaker). A young lady with epilepsy was brought to Mrs. Reisner who was involved every step of the way from suggesting a switch of medication since seizures were continuing to taking pride in a fully functioning young woman who is now successfully married.
A high functioning young man with ASD is now happy married to a high functioning special needs girl. The couple lives in Alei Siach (a sheltered home setting for adults with special needs) and receive all the support they need from both the home and their parents. They have both blossomed tremendously. The chosson’s mother describes her great joy: “I see my son sitting and schmoozing with his new wife for an hour at a time.”
For those who approach the shidduch scene with a strike against them, Ezer Mizion’s Strike A Match is the pillar they lean on until they, too, join their peers with the sounds of joy as the longed for wedding becomes a reality and they begin to build their unique Jewish home.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.