Forget Cheaper by the Dozen. Rose Marchick, an Orthodox Jew in her late 30s from Olathe, Kansas, has mothered more than 150 children in the last nine years. According to JNS, she is one of the most active foster parents in the area, and hers is one of few foster homes that takes in children with severe emotional issues.
“The kids need a home, and we have one,” Marchick, who has a PhD in psychology, explained. “It’s no more complicated than that.”
“We used to do a lot of emergency care for the police department,” Marchick told JNS. “We would take in children in police protective custody, such as children who have been removed from their home for investigation. … The phone rings, they’ve got three kids—siblings. They come for three to five days and then they are gone. Or the charges are substantiated and they stay in foster care.”
Friday night phone calls from the police department or a social services agency are common for the Shabbat-observant Marchick, who will always pick up. “If my phone rings and it is the police station, I am there with those kids,” she said.
While most of Marchick’s foster children are not Jewish, they are welcomed at her Shabbat table and in synagogue services. She offers spiritual books of all stripes in her home.
For her biological children, a new face at the dinner table has become part of the routine. Her 12-year-old daughter is writing her bat mitzvah speech about what she’s learned from the foster children she’s lived with.
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Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.