A Woman of Valor


         

A Woman of Valor

 
 
 
 

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An Unsung Hero

By Rebecca Mandel, RN

During these troubled times, where people quietly go about their own business, worrying and wallowing in their own problems, there is an individual who brings a spark of light, a source of inspiration, and a sign of hope.  Her name is Lori Pietruszka.  Lori has unwittingly taken it upon herself to provide solutions to other people's problems in a quiet, and unassuming way.  Whether it's finding strangers a place for a meal on Shabbat, feeding the homeless, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Israel and victims of Hurricane Katrina, or matchmaking, Lori is an unsung hero in Los Angeles.  Hearing her story will inspire you to do more and be more.  Her story is living proof that one person can make a difference.

Lori is a 34 year old single woman, with a vast business professional background ranging from costume designing for Broadway in New York City, to Hollywood in California. She manages real estate, is involved in marketing and is active in several other businesses.

I became acquainted with Lori by simply sending her an email - a stranger asking for help finding a place for Shabbat, as I was new to the Los Angeles area. Immediately, I received an email back asking me what I needed, how can she be of help. She asked if I was set up with meals and if not she would set them up. In addition, she said any meals she was invited to, I should please join her. She asked how I was feeling, how I was adjusting to the community, showing such deep caring and concern for a complete stranger.

Over the next few weeks, attending synagogue, I found that I was only one of hundreds that Lori helped. I found out that she receives dozens of emails on a daily basis from other strangers asking for help. There are hundreds of singles that if not for Lori, would be alone for Shabbat. She has made matches for singles finding their soul mates, by the avenue of opening her heart, her home, her own pocket to help others financially and socially helping them meet their significant other.

Unless you are a single adult, you might be unaware of the epidemic of Jewish orthodox unmarried singles across the United States. Many organizations in the Jewish community are actively trying to do something about it; others just stand idly by feeling sorry for the thousands of single lonely Jews struggling to find their soul mates. It is a sad state of affairs. Lori Pietruszka makes sure that nobody is alone for Shabbat. Lori manages to put together meals for Friday night and Shabbat Lunch, bringing complete strangers together with the intention of hopefully, with G-d's help making matches.

On Passover, Lori took me, at that time a complete stranger, to every meal she went to. I was introduced to over 100 new people over the course of three days. All these meals were coordinated and paid for by Lori. After a few phone calls and the time we spent over Passover, Lori and I became friends. It was then that I began to notice other unbelievable acts of chessed that she does. While driving in her SUV, I noticed every time I drove with her there were bags of clothing, shoes, and even food. When I asked about this- she at first evaded the question eventually telling me simply "it was for the needy". I then found out that Lori actively searches for homeless on the street and gives them clothing, food, and shoes so they are not walking barefoot on the ground. Another time she picked me up she had stuffed animals in the backseat of her car - she told me it was for a foundation "Chance for children/ Baywatch foundation." Many times, I found her verbalizing "there must be more that I can do…´this is after her Thursday night drives dropping off packages for the needy.

After all this, I began to do more research on this humble woman who has received no recognition for what she has done over the last six years in LA, and continues to do on a daily basis. I found out she raised close to $100,000 in September of 2006, for Israel. She started the LA Chessed Foundation connecting singles in meals and many meals she pays for and the proceeds go to charity. Lori headed the Rojelo Rojas Foundation helping ill children. She is the VP of fundraising for JCONNECT- another organization committed to bringing singles together. Lori helped raise thousands of dollars for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina through a silent auction. The list goes on and on. I am sure there is so much I don't know. Every year she runs a fundraiser - toys for underprivileged children for both Jews and non-Jews. I have only been in LA for six weeks and I found out all this.

This woman, this 34 year old single woman has devoted her life to helping others. She has devoted her life for the past six years to making hundreds of successful shidduchim. She has devoted her life to making sure people are clothed, fed, and welcomed in the community, she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities and foundations. This is a human being to be emulated an example for the Jewish world.

Lori is someone we can all use as an inspiration. Her acts of chessed should be admired, but more important, should be used to inspire us to do more, to be more, to contribute more. This is what Judaism is all about. In the span of Jewish history we see evident miracles when the Jews are together - collectively making a difference.

In life, many times we are fortunate in meeting an angel, she/he could appear anywhere at any time for purposes of guiding us and teaching us something of significance. Lori is for so many, a pure angel. If we all reached out, each of us can make a difference. If we all opened our hearts and souls- angels are amongst us all.

~~~~~~~

from the June 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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