Today I call her Shvigger (Yiddish for mother-in-law). I used to call her teacher. In a way, I still call her teacher. Not to her directly, but in my heart and in my soul.

How did it come to pass that my teacher became my Shvigger? Well, it's a long story. I came to Melbourne, Australia as a young seminary student and as an emissary from my hometown, New York, to study and to help teach the youth in the wider community. My first encounter with my teacher, my Shvigger, was in the classroom in Seminary. It was a wonderful class, a positive atmosphere where we learned how to run a Jewish home. She touched on controversial topics and brought us to a new understanding of the Torah's perspectives on them.

What struck me was how happy she was What struck me was how happy she was, teaching, never complaining, and always offering to have students join her family's Shabbat dinner table. I did not know then the true extent of her social and educational efforts on behalf of the community, going about her work without charging one cent. Her work was done as a service to others, always.

She is known as a Kallah teacher, a woman who introduces the concept of mikvah to new Jewish brides. She teaches these girls with love and gentleness and enthusiastically inspires women to enhance the spirituality in their new home.

I recently asked my husband how many years his mother had been giving these lessons to brides, and he answered that it was "since I can remember." He remembers being ill one night as a five year old, and knew to walk down the hall to the green couch where she was always sitting and teaching the women. She excused herself, and lovingly put him back to bed. How wonderful to wake up and find your mother teaching Torah to others, and yet still have the time to put you back to bed lovingly and patiently!

She is also involved in N'shei Chabad and various institutions for women, gives a class on the weekly Torah portion, prepares delicious food for the many, many guests she hosts for weekly Shabbat dinners and for the Passover Seder, in addition to caring for her family overseas and interstate, and helping the many families who call her daily for help and advice- all without fanfare. She never asks for any respect or compensation, only for the opportunity to continue her efforts quietly and consistently.

For over forty years she has been teaching brides in Melbourne, Australia. There must be thousands of women who as brides passed through her doors. I often hear women make reference to her when I meet a new face and the stranger asks me my family name. Being that I live in a different city, I don't expect them to know who I am related to. "Oh, are you related to Miriam...I remember her teaching me thirty years ago...I had no idea why I was meeting with her, yet she made me feel so comfortable..."

I hear this refrain all the time, and I know that even after the wedding she continues to be there for the women in her community. She and her husband provide marriage counseling for many couples, often sitting and speaking with them well into the wee hours of the morning.

I try to emulate her In her sensitivity to the needs of others, she also started a special Shavuos luncheon for widows in the community, so that together they can enjoy both a holiday meal and the opportunity to learn about the unique connection of Jewish women to Shavuot.

All in addition to keeping an open house for teachers, representatives of yeshivas, and others who travel to Melbourne from all over the world. Her house has been nicknamed the local "Hilton."

My Shvigger is a legend. I try to emulate her ways and teach as many women as possible, including converts, brides and Bat Mitzvah students. And whenever I feel that I need a holiday, I remember her influence and her never ending words at the conclusion of our phone calls at night..."I have to go, I have a Kallah walking in in five minutes."

If she can continue her efforts into her mid-sixties, then what right have I to slow down? May she be blessed with many more years of health and nachat, joy, and the power to inspire thousands more women to keep the laws of the mikvah with pride and love!