I am an orphan…with two living, breathing parents who have been either completely useless or totally abusive to me and my sisters during our lifetimes. My family, my real family, is made up of three people (me and my sisters) and we’ve adopted my husband into the fold. Yeah, we’re a pretty tiny bunch but it’s cozy.
My sister recently moved back to New York with her husband and they have been trying to find a place, an apartment, to live in to no avail. They’re too poor, my sister was told by several landlords who said they could have the place if they had a parent or a family member cosign on the lease or act as a guarantor. We told the landlords what we’ve been telling people most of our lives, we are orphans. We have never had anyone but each other to depend on. And all of us are too poor to cosign or act as a guarantor.
So today, when my sister called me to tell me that she, her husband and her cat had been evicted by US Marshalls from the room they had been renting because their roommate hadn’t been paying the rent, I almost cried. I would have cried. If I hadn’t been so angry. Why do these kinds of things keep happening to us? Why can’t a former teen runaway catch a break? And who would she turn to? Who could take her in? This is when you need family, their resources and their support. But my husband, my other sister and I are all deathly allergic to cats and we had nothing but a couch to offer. And my sister wouldn’t let go of her cat, after all, it’s part of the family.
I posted a note about this situation on my Facebook page and within half-an-hour, someone called me with a room for rent that my sister, her husband AND her cat could move into. And before that someone called, plenty of people posted and emailed me that my sister and her husband (minus the cat) could move in with them. Instantly, several people were online instant messaging me to make sure I was okay, to see how they could help.
That’s when I realized my family has gotten much bigger. Because every single person that offered their home as a refuge for my little sister was a Jew. Every single person was part of this new awesome, larger extended family that I am a part of and by extension, my sisters are now a part of. When people ask my little sister if she is Jewish because she is so knowledgeable about Judaism (one of them kept kosher and was shomer Shabbos with me during my conversion process), she tells them, “My family is.”