Asking for help isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you know that the answer might be no.
“I have seen grown men sit in the same chair you are sitting in right now and weep,” says Sara Zekbach, the Yad Eliezer Adopt-a-Wedding program coordinator. The wall behind her desk is decorated with photographs of tulle and white flowers, sparkling long-stemmed glasses and elaborate bridal thrones.
A former girls high school teacher, Sara’s organizational skills and aesthetic sensibilities come to the fore beautifully in her combined role as financial counselor and wedding planner for the needy of Israel. Most important, however, is her kind face and understanding eyes. Sara knows how to make every groom and bride turning to her for help feel like a king and queen, no matter how little they have in financial terms.
“Sometimes people have this question about why we help people make weddings. Couldn’t the money be spent in better ways? But the truth is that such an expectation is unfair. Just because a family is struggling to make ends meet doesn’t mean that their daughter should have to wait until she is middle-aged to get married,” says Sori Tropper, CEO of American Friends of Yad Eliezer. The message is that the poor deserve the same normalcy and dignity that we do.
Sara also explains that the Adopt-a-Wedding program has ramifications beyond just the families of the brides and grooms. The program employs wait staff and catering services for up to four weddings every night, providing jobs for dozens of formerly impoverished Israelis.
“By the way,” adds Sara, “The reason that people weep in my office isn’t out of sadness. They sit there and weep for joy. There was a father here a few months ago who had no idea how he would manage to provide his daughter with even a modest wedding celebration. This was a family in genuinely dire straits. We invited him in a few days after his visit to tell him the good news. Someone had sponsored the entire cost of his daughter’s wedding.”
“That was when he started to cry,” concludes Sara with a quiet smile.