The Rebbe’s army of Shluchim is the greatest worldwide force, and being a part of it is the greatest honor. But what about when it doesn’t work out? The war in Ukraine is one example of Shluchim being forced to leave, but there are other situations and different reasons.
Knowing a few such cases, I can tell you that it is a very painful experience for them. They have a searing, heart-heavy pain of having their life’s dream shattered and maybe feeling like a failure. They and their children are left to figure out their new identity – and they mostly do it on their own.
You might hear rumors about how it happened or why it happened, but that isn’t relevant to you. If they joined your Lubavitcher community, they are in pain, and you should be helping them as a fellow Chossid.
(This isn’t to say that a new member of your community doesn’t deserve a warm welcome. Only that this case where extra care and sensitivity are needed.)
So here’s how you can help:
1. Host their kids for playdates.
The parents have a lot to figure out at this time and life can feel on edge for them. Getting the kids out would allow them to research and plan the next steps, so they can eventually present it to their children with confidence and certainty.
2. Make them a meal.
As they move out of town, or when they move into a new town, send them a supper, arrange them a meal, do anything to help them gain a footing as they try to get their life together. Help prevent “hangry” kids and parents during a massive life change.
3. Be a friend (and not a nosy one).
Call and say hello, write a text, send a letter – whether they are leaving in a few months, or already left ages ago. Stay in touch. Let them know they are or will be missed, their children are missed, their programs and hard work are missed, etc. Please don’t initiate a conversation about the cause of their leave or fish for information about it.
4. Set up their house.
There is no organization that helps you set up a new home, especially post Shlichus. Check if there is something needed. The expenses of moving cross country are very large, and not everything can make it from one home to the next. Think of them as a new couple that is settling in their first home. You can purchase something new, take them to a Gemach or just help them schlep.
5. Send a small gift.
It’s amazing how much a simple Amazon delivery can brighten someone’s day. Whether for the parents or child, knowing that they are being thought of and loved is empowering and uplifting. A small gift can make a big difference.
6. Financial assistance.
Starting all over in a new community – without having been given enough time to plan and prepare – can be financially draining. Offering to cover basic expenses or sending a financial gift can greatly ease the financial strain. From assistance with camp and school tuition, to simply funding new backpacks for the kids, every bit helps and it can be done directly or indirectly (Matan B’sayser).
7. Recommend resources.
If you live in their new city or are in the know, offer information on how to navigate local healthcare, government assistance, etc. Let them know about programs, events, and organizations that are available.
8. Reference and Refer.
Offer to be a reference for their new job, housing, or children’s school. If you hear of a concrete open position, suggest it. Taking a few minutes to write a short reference letter is not only helpful, but your words are a massive ego boost to someone who may feel anything but empowered.
Together, may we all fulfill our unique life’s Shlichus wherever we are found with true Ahavas Yisroel and hatzlacha for all.