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Whos Pulling the String

“‘Avigail, bring Hashem into your business.’ That’s what Donna told me when I called for advice.

“I wasn’t sure what she meant. But that week I had a performance in a school near the Kotel. I was shlepping 20 kilo of equipment, and the road was closed. I needed to get all that stuff up the stairs, and it didn’t feel possible.

“I remembered Donna’s words and said, ‘Hashem, please help!’

“A moment later, I got a call from the organizer. ‘I’m sending a few girls to help you carry everything.’ Within five minutes, I was setting up the stage.

“‘Thank you Hashem,’ I said, ‘it’s wonderful doing business with You.’

“And this is what Temech brings to the table. It’s not just about growing your business. It’s about partnering with Hashem.”

Avigail has been an actress and a puppeteer for the past 12 years. It was a winding path.

She dropped out of school after 10th grade. Started learning fashion design, but left it.

Then she taught herself puppeteering. She crafted her own puppets and props from scraps of fabric, stuffing from old sofas, and discarded wood.

Seven years ago, she learned ensemble and had a number of starring roles. And now she’s taking additional acting classes.

Avigail purchased a large property in Beit Shemesh, hoping to gain income from the real estate, but that didn’t pan out. She dreamed of opening a unique gift store, but realized it wouldn’t be lucrative.

She threw herself into what she loved – puppet shows. She also performed for women and girls, sharing the story of how she became a baalas teshuvah.

Then corona hit, and the world shuttered.

Avigail was eligible for the grants offered to business owners, and that helped. She used the downtime to create puppets and props for another show, even recording the sound effects.

But after the world reopened, her business floundered.

Someone suggested she join a Temech group. There was one specifically for baalos teshuvah, and she joined.

“During the first two meetings, I didn’t open my mouth.

“This one was talking about how she does groups and she wants to expand to one-on-ones. Another does coaching and wants to lead groups. Rich people’s problems.

“It was around Chanukah, when I usually have a string of performances, and this time I had just one booking.

“I got some tips and ideas, but I wasn’t receptive. I was mourning everything that wasn’t working.”

At one meeting, the group watched a video talk from a rav.

He shared a story. Rav Elya Lopian was in Kfar Chassidim and he saw two men paving a street. It was a steamy day, and they were working with hot, smelly tar.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m working so hard in the heat to earn a few coins so I can buy potatoes,” the first responded bitterly.

“I’m doing mitzvos!” responded the second. “Yesterday, a woman walked here with her baby carriage and it was so hard for her. Tomorrow she’ll be able to walk on a smooth road and conserve her energy for her family.”

Rav Elya kissed him.

“Look beyond your business,” the rav urged the women, “and focus on who you can help, on the kindness you can do.”

“This meant so much to me,” Avigail shares. “Yes, we need to know about marketing and branding. But Temech brought Hashem into our businesses.

“A person is where his thoughts are, and Temech helped me change my thinking.

“That same day I decided to volunteer in a hospital.

The transformations continued.

“Donna, our group leader, told me, instead of focusing on all the failures, think about one thing you want to be doing. Imagine it.

“I told her my dream of doing something for the elderly, people I could take on a trip down memory lane, who would be appreciative and nonjudgmental.

“This week, I got a job in an old age home in Beit Shemesh. You plant seeds, and they sprout.”

Buoyed by the group’s belief in her, Avigail kept refining the show.

“I learned what makes kids laugh, and made sure to pack the shows with those elements. Jobs trickled in. I raised my prices.”

She started getting jobs through booking agents, and then on her own.

“Success is like popcorn; you need to heat it for a while, it starts slow, and then it keeps popping.

“Soon, I was able to come to the group and share my success. And they rejoiced with me.”

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