Sometimes You Need To Adopt A Mother on Mother’s Day

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This mother’s day we take a look at our very own Mother Rachel. Although the Scriptures do not describe exactly how the Biblical matriarch Rachel looked, thousands of Boys Town Jerusalem students are certain that she was petite, brown-eyed and had a soft, infectious smile. For virtually all BTJ students over the past 28 years, “their” Mother Rachel is the school’s registrar and dorm mother Rachel Cohen-Pur, who cares for and loves her children with the passion of her Biblical namesake.

Rachel Cohen-Pur’s day at the office begins at 7:00 AM. Awaiting her today is a pale, skinny seventh grader whose throat hurts, so she quickly prepares him hot tea and a sandwich. “He’s so worried about his mother who is suffering from post-partum depression. There’s no food for the seven kids, and their house is terribly dirty.” Rachel tells us. He is then followed by a steady procession of students who come to Rachel in search of a forgotten hat or with a plaintive plea to intercede on their behalf with a teacher. These early risers are the first of the many boys who will make their way to the registrar’s office throughout the day to pour out their hearts to Rachel, who will do anything in her power—and more—to help them.

For a good many years, Rachel has been collecting used clothing, coats and shoes to give to the countless boys who need them. “I noticed how dirty some of the boys’ clothing was and discovered that their families are too poor to own a washing machine. So I ask these boys to bring their shirts and laundry for me to take home and wash. I also mend holes in their shirts, fold and iron them. And sometimes I slip candy into the pockets to cheer up the boys. They’re facing such sad, difficult problems at home that it breaks my heart,” Rachel explains.

In her position as dorm mother, Rachel comes back to school several evenings each week to fix special treats for “her boys,” to listen to them and seek ways to give them the confidence and love that they need at every age. “This job demands a great deal of emotional fortitude,” she admits. “Often I come back home and just sit and cry.

Her face etched in pain, Rachel mentions the eighth grader whose mother is an alcoholic, or another whose father is in prison, or the youngster whose little sister is suffering the terrible pain of cancer. “Poverty is a tremendous curse for our boys,” Rachel adds. “There are students here who simply have no food at all in their homes. Thank goodness for their three healthy meals a day at Boys Town Jerusalem!

“Rachel helps every, and I mean EVERY student here,” says seventh grader Yosef Ben Shabbat. “She has all the good characteristics a person can have, and then some. She’s our mother, after all!”

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