A video arrived in Aleph’s inbox of a young man striding proudly across the stage to receive his high school diploma. It would seem like just an ordinary scene, unless you read the message that his mother sent along with it: “Thank you… for walking with me during the dark days to have the strength to see the light and get to these proud moments. Only Aleph knows what it truly took to get here.” – Eliza*
Eliza is a mom of three whose husband was incarcerated six years ago.
In her own words: “My husband and the loving father of my three beautiful children was the subject of local newspapers. His mugshot was seen by my friends and family… How did this become our lives? How would we live and survive such horrific circumstances?”
Eliza’s children were bullied at school for having a father in prison. Her heartbroken daughter used to say, “It would have been easier if he died.”
One sleepless night, Eliza sat at the computer googling organizations that help people in jail. A link to the Aleph Institute popped up on her screen and she clicked it. “I reached out to them in need of emotional support for myself. They have been my lifeline through this nightmare.”
With the help of G-d, Aleph’s Family Services department stepped in to provide unconditional love and relentless support to Eliza and her family. Over the years, our help has taken on different forms. In the beginning, there were countless hours spent on the phone offering Eliza a listening ear as she slowly worked through the shame, loneliness, and despair. Our team hired a top-notch physiatrist who performed a neurological evaluation on Eliza’s husband and diagnosed him with PTSD as a result of his time in the IDF. (This diagnosis was critical in the judge’s decision to give him a more lenient sentence.) Aleph Family Services also helped Eliza cover the bills until she was able to gain financial independence.
For several summers, Aleph’s Family Services provided summer camp scholarships for Eliza’s children so they could have a normal summer with their friends. Eliza has now become an integral part of the “Aleph Moms” Facebook group, where she provides remarkable strength and inspiration to other wives and mothers of incarcerated individuals.
Eliza writes: “When I discovered the Aleph Institute, an organization that supports families with loved ones in prison, I suddenly had a community that understood what I was going through. They understood the shame, terror, and worry of having a loved one who was incarcerated. They understood what it felt like not having him there to celebrate big life events like birthdays, graduations, and bar mitzvahs. And that understanding made all the difference…”
Sometimes, it’s the seemingly “ordinary” things, like Eliza watching her son graduate high school with honors, that are the most extraordinary.