Everyone was predicting a bright future for Yossi. At 21, he was considered the top boy in his yeshiva, delivering chaburos and publishing pamphlets of Torah novellae.
One day, without any warning, things went haywire – a severe case of bipolar disorder burst out. He was hospitalized in a closed psychiatric ward for several months. After medication helped balance his illness, he was released to the care of Bayit Cham and his loving family.
At home, Yossi felt hopeless. Where could he go? What could he do now? He couldn’t go back to yeshiva. He did not have the concentration necessary for full-day study – neither the long hours nor the intensity. On the other hand, he didn’t feel comfortable going to work – he felt he wouldn’t belong. He viewed himself as a yeshiva student and that’s how he wanted to remain.
His vocational coach at Bayit Cham looked for a position that would suit Yossi and found him a job as a mashgiach in a slaughterhouse – the perfect environment for a young man like Yossi. In addition, the coach arranged for Torah study partners for many hours of the day.
Yossi was lucky – he had a supportive family that contributed greatly to his successful rehabilitation process. But then calamity struck this wonderful family once again: shortly after Yossi’s release from the hospital, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Yossi devotedly cared for her at home, but she passed away a few short months later.
He was devastated, grieving and lonely.
With the help of medication, Yossi’s mental state regained balance and he was able to focus better. He appreciated the support, love and respect he received at Bayit Cham and wanted to pass it along; he wanted to help others who were suffering in despair. After all, he knew more about it than anyone else! Bayit Cham saw and valued Yossi’s special empathic abilities and offered him a very responsible position as a vocational coach for clients who need lots of support at jobs in the mainstream labor market. He is very successful at his job – he understands the people he mentors and they feel it.
Rabbi Arie Munk, Bayit Cham’s director, hosts a popular radio program, “Yedid Nefesh”, every Sunday from 12 AM to 2 AM, presenting topics related to mental health and then fielding listeners’ questions and comments. Guided by his ongoing goal to break the stigma, Rabbi Munk wanted to air a program about the need to treat a mental challenge as it rises, instead of neglecting or hiding it.
During Chanukah, a year and a half ago, Yossi agreed to come on air and talk about his personal journey of rehabilitation.
He talked for an hour about the process he’d been through and shared how good he feels now that he is balanced and lives well with his illness.
Rabbi Munk was moved by Yossi’s presentation. At 2 AM, just before the end of the program, he told Yossi, “You’ve reached the age and stage that you should be thinking about getting married.” Yossi replied, “If you know someone, I’d be happy to hear…”
Then and there, live on the air, Rabbi Munk announced that if there is someone among the listeners who has a good shidduch idea for Yossi, an excellent girl who is deserving of this special young man who just spoke to them, please contact Yossi’s Bayit Cham therapist Avremi Friedman, and he’ll tie the loose end. He then broadcasted Friedman’s cell phone number…
As soon as the program was over, someone called Mr. Friedman and told him about her friend Michal who had traveled a similar road as Yossi and she thought they might be a good match. Friedman tried to contact Michal to arrange things between them and discovered that the girl who’d called him after the radio show was none other Michal herself! After further inquiries, Yossi and Michal met and found that they were a perfect fit. They married a few months later and began a new chapter in their lives – new life bursting with promise. Just now, Michal gave birth to a son – and tomorrow’s the bris!!
יוני נכנס לחדר הורים לאט ובשקט… הוא לא רצה שאמא תשמע אפילו את נעלי הקרוקס שלו…
“שתישן …” חשק את שפתיו. מזמן יודע יוני שהשינה מיטיבה עם אמא.
“אבל היום… היום אמא הבטיחה שתקח אותי לים. הלכתי בעצמי לחנות ובחרתי גלגל ים אדום,” מלמל יוני לעצמו… ויצא מהחדר.
היה זה הטיול הראשון אותו הבטיחה אוסנת, אימו של יוני, בחופשת הקיץ הארוכה… והנה הגיע השעה המיועדת והיא ישנה ….