Dr. Naomi Saar, LCSW, PhD, saw a need in our community and she stepped up to fill it with compassion and sensitivity. Dr. Saar is using her vast social work expertise and background to start a support group for single women, ages 25-50, which will be divided into age groups. She noted that “An older single in our community has to deal with so many sensitive issues. There is dealing with shadchanim, choosing whom to date, and choosing which events to attend; for some there is the issue of being able to bear one’s own children, seeing friends marry, bitachon versus emunah, staying positive, self-care, continuing with life, the challenges of living at home with parents as an older single and the challenges of living alone as an older single, the challenges of staying connected with good friends who marry, and the challenges of younger siblings marrying.” Yom Tov itself presents challenges. Will the single woman or man be expected to do more of the work because she is single? Another Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur approaches and something singles have davened for so fervently for all year has still not come to fruition, and it’s another year with no spouse. It could be painful for single women to see many women who are contemporaries or younger women married with children coming for t’kias shofar with their children. A single man is in shul still without a talis. There is the difficulty of planning meals, not having to eat alone or being home with married siblings. Sometimes women living at home have to change their room when married siblings come home, or they are expected to do a lot of childcare because they are single.
Friendships can be difficult if married friends are not as available. Though women may have achieved a lot professionally, in our community they may still feel a lack of respect due to their unmarried status. Dr. Saar’s social work antenna saw all this pain and need, and she is forming a support group where frum women will meet other frum women in similar situations and see how they cope. They may hear ideas they had not thought of and find a different perspective, and they won’t feel so alone. It is also special to have such an experienced frum mental health professional leading the group, which is not a therapy group. It is strictly a support group. Dr. Saar noted how there are support groups for so many issues, but none for this, and that is why she felt it was important to fill that need. She herself married at a later age and, in addition, she coordinates with her mother, Mrs. Phyllis Katten, who runs a Singles Shabbos Program.
Dr. Saar’s support group will begin, b’ezras Hashem, on Thursday, September 12, in Kew Gardens Hills. The group will then meet on successive Thursday, September 19, September 26, October 3, and October 10. The focus for the introductory session on September 12 will be dealing with issues of being single during Yom Tov.
In addition to an impressive list of publications, she has worked on crisis intervention, facilitated bimonthly workshops on friendship, peer pressure, anger management, stress, emotions, self-esteem, conflict resolution self-awareness, communication, disability and difference, trauma, and eating disorders. She has also presented workshops on child neglect, women in the labor force and in the family, family systems theory, communication skills, the building blocks of a relationship, promoting your daughter’s friendships, and much more.
Our community is fortunate and blessed to be the innovators of so many wonderful programs and ideas. The recent shidduch initiative started by Mrs. Odelia Jacobs, which is raising sensitivity in our community and the need for action in our shuls on behalf of singles, is now complimented by this wonderful opportunity for single women to have the emotional support they need. B’ezras Hashem, the shidduch initiative and this support group will catapult all the single women with the blessings from Hashem to be able to build beautiful batim neemanim b’karov.
By Susie Garber