Jewish young woman praying at kotel
Jewish young woman praying at kotel צילום: shutterstock

It was the night of the engagement party, and Shayna sat in her best dress, with her best smile. A few neighbors stopped in to say “mazel tov” but there were long stretches of silence, and no girls her age. As the hour got later, she sat alone next to her siblings, wondering when the night would end. Her friends were not coming … and she has no idea if she will ever see them again.

Just a few months ago, Shayna Feldstein and her family left their apartment in the Ukraine under the cover of night, with as many belongings as they could squeeze into a suitcase. As bombs exploded in the distance, they fled for the border, saying Tehilim and praying that they would survive. This was the case with everyone Shayna knew. She and her friends wound up in different countries, with the Feldsteins making it to Israel.

Life since they arrived has been drastically different. In the Ukraine, the Feldstein parents were teachers. Now they are painfully poor, unable to afford even the most basic things for their 11 children. Shayna’s engagement has been a moment of happiness in a chapter of pain.

“I’m just grateful to be alive,” says the young woman whose friends will not be attending her chuppah. Her gratitude is inspiring.

Donations are being collected to help Shayna and her family make a simple wedding. As of now they have no way to afford the various necessities, and it has been a source of pain and embarrassment.