February 16, 2023
The Not-So-Tiny World of Eim Leah
A mother holding her newborn baby. Is there any moment more magical? Any bond more transcendent? Any image more iconic to our nation’s essence?
Granted—there’s the magic. And the gratitude. But as anyone blessed to have been there knows, there’s also perpetual exhaustion, staggering overwhelm, and breathless disbelief that this tiny being can effect change so tremendous.
We all know the truth: when a mother who doesn’t give herself time and space to recover after birth, her ambition backfires.
But when her household tasks abound, her children each vie for their piece of the pie, and her to-do list beckons, Mommy succumbs.
Welcome to Eim Leah, created to restore the age-old tradition of caring for new mothers as a community.
Peek into their not-so-tiny world and join the journey of thousands of Lakewood families whose joyous times have remained joyful.
Look around at Lakewood’s mothers—an indomitable force of capable, successful, multitasking dynamos. It’s a marvel, but it begs the question: How much is too much? Who will gently usurp the reins at the right moment and say, Now, leave it to us?
Enter Eim Leah, founded in memory of Leah (Bergman) Eisdorfer a”h, a quintessential young mother who was tragically killed in a car accident. In her memory, Leah’s friends set out to create a movement that would center around mothers.
“I’ll never forget those first meetings after Leah’s passing,” says Rochella Singer, co-founder of Eim Leah. “Leah was beloved by everyone and had a special pureness that shone as she mothered her children with an unbelievable presence.”
When Eim Leah’s visionaries sat down with Rav Malkiel Kotler, the Skverer Dayan, and Rav Moshe Zev Feldman and broached the concept of their grassroots initiative, they expected approval. Instead, they got resounding support and encouragement to establish an organization that would fill the gaping void in the circle of care provided to postpartum women.
Eim Leah was founded in 2016 on the simple yet powerful belief that every mother deserves to be supported—and yes, pampered—after giving birth.
The idea was not revolutionary. For generations, relatives and friends have been sending meals and adopting toddlers so that new mommies could rest up. But life has changed dramatically, and with everyone’s hectic schedules and large families, the new mommy needs more.
Seven whirlwind years later, the mission remains unchanged—only expanded, enhanced, and extended. Eim Leah delivers a one-week care package for the entire family which includes hot dinners, fresh lunch for the new mother, a layette package, a cleaning lady, a baby nurse for multiples, and afternoon babysitting, supporting and pampering numerous new mothers and by extension, their families.
When you send a mother a meal or a helping hand after birth, you are sending so much more than practical help. You’re sending kinship, rejuvenation, relief. You’re restoring the rightful glory to the ultimate continuation of Klal Yisrael.
An average of 50 families receive Eim Leah’s services each week, and the gratitude they share propels the close to 200 volunteers to keep giving. The feedback pours in weekly, surprising even the staff sometimes with its raw passion and vivid imagery.
“Those babysitters were angels in disguise,” one new mother wrote. “They held down the fort downstairs while I crawled into a cocoon of blessed oblivion upstairs. It was two hours of serenity that gave me strength for the whole day.”
“This is the first time I showed up to second seder without guilt for a week straight,” one husband shared. “My wife knows she will receive lunch, supper, and babysitting help. This has affected our whole family so positively, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
“I couldn’t believe how simple and intuitive the whole process was,” one grateful mother said. “The timely meal deliveries really put me at ease.”
Overcoming the hurdles
Eim Leah staff freely admit that its successful path has not been without its hurdles, both operational and financial.
“We’re fortunate to be a joyful service,” explains Shifra Mehl, co-founder. “But that also means we don’t have the perk of sensationalist fundraising. We are not featuring weeping orphans or gut-wrenching accounts. As a preventive service, we will never know the true ripple effect of the transformation. But it’s there.”
A few years ago, she and her husband went to Rav Moshe Brandsdorfer for much-needed chizuk with regard to fundraising. He shared a famous parable of a town that had a broken roadway leading into it. There was a constant stream of mishaps, with passengers and horses falling and getting injured. The townspeople met to address the situation and resolved to fix it—by building a hospital at the end of the road.
R’ Moshe deals with numerous shalom bayis and chinuch problems, and when a new baby is thrown into the mix without the proper support in place, things can spiral out of control too quickly. “You lay the foundation for a physically and emotionally healthy recovery. Who knows how much damage you are preventing?”
Notwithstanding the challenges, Esti Ginsburg of Ginsburg Associates, who has been managing the Eim Leah account since its inception, notes that the organization has experienced incredible siyata d’Shmaya over the years. “It’s clear that Hashem is on our side,” she says. “I’ve seen tremendous brachah in my life each time I stretched myself to go the extra mile for Eim Leah.”
“What most people don’t realize is that Eim Leah is a massive operation run by a group of extraordinary women who volunteer their hearts and time during and between their own hectic schedules,” says Goldie Chopp, co-director. “There is no central office and there are no executive salaries, but with Hashem’s help, we are meeting the need.”
“We are not a ‘wow’ organization,” Leiba Hirth, co-director, relates. “That’s because what we do is so normal, so necessary, that it can almost be taken for granted. Our annual campaign simply reminds the community of the obvious fact that we want to keep saying yes, but we can’t do it alone.”
Eim Leah is well-known for being professionally run, efficiently operated, and always thoughtfully executed. “I am involved in multiple businesses,” says Shaindy Menzer, co-founder, “and I can vouch that Eim Leah is run like a legitimate high-end company. From accounting to marketing to coordination, it is truly a venture the community can be proud of.”
The organization never rests.
Eim Leah is extremely grateful to Mr. Ralph Lasry, who recently created the seamless app for processing applications and coordinating operations.
And it doesn’t stop at meals. One day, Chani, a devoted Eim Leah volunteer, entered a home to deposit some food boxes on the kitchen counter, and the mother couldn’t stop apologizing for the visible disarray. “Something clicked at that moment,” Chani shares. Meals are essential. Cleaning help is essential. Maybe home organization is also essential?”
Thus, a new department was born, and a team of star organizers help restore seder to the homes and minds of new mothers.
“People might wonder about this service,” one mother shared, “but I’m telling you it made a bigger difference than anything else.”
Mrs. Gitty Meyer has been a mainstay at Eim Leah since its inception and the singular driving force behind the Boruch Wydra A”h supper program, the largest division of Eim Leah’s operation and budget. She notes that accepting help after birth is not only essential but natural. When the tables turn, mothers are happy to give back if they can, since they know how important the support is.
Henny, a volunteer coordinator, shares, “It’s amazing to see how Hashem is with you when you are doing chessed. Every week, the number of stops and distance between them keeps growing, and I wonder how we will have enough volunteer drivers to cover the shifts. But somehow, the routes get filled and they all pull through. And of course, that’s a testament to our incredible volunteers. Midwinter, Yom Tov season, back to school—really, nothing stops them.”
A vital partnership
We expect so much from our women—and they of themselves. We know the birth of a baby should be a milestone moment, but in a city with a birth rate like Lakewood’s ka”h, it’s hard to preserve that magical aura that once surrounded birth.
Unless we do everything we can to keep it going.
Eim Leah has accomplished so much more than providing meals and services for mothers. It has created an awareness that a mother after birth is a queen, that children thrive when their mother is cared for, and that a family’s functioning sometimes hinges on things that are often overlooked.
Eim Leah has quickly become a source of pride for the Lakewood community. We know our people, it whispers. And we know how to be there for them.
Now, it’s your turn. Eim Leah’s annual fundraising campaign enables it to keep going—and keep growing.
Donate today at charidy.com/eimleah or call 732-655-3322. Checks can be mailed to 36 Glen Avenue, Lakewood, NJ 08701.
Ready to join the ranks? Eim Leah is always seeking energetic and capable volunteers to coordinate services in their neighborhood or deliver lunches and suppers. To volunteer, call 732-851-1302.
Reach out—and never look back.
A peek into Eim Leah stats
Average cost of servicing one family: $315
Number of families serviced in 2022: 1,800
New Eim Leah families each week: 40
Baby nurses for multiples