A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours. It's an old joke, yes, but not so funny when it hits home. The loss of a job is frightening, and it's hitting close to home. Caterpillar, a leading maker of farm equipment in my home state of Illinois, cut its work force by one third. My sister-in- law, who works for a huge Boston PR firm, just got her hours cut from 30 to 20 per week, and a friend of mine was recently laid off from GM. Thank G‑d, my husband and I have our jobs, but we are working harder to make ends meet. It is not enough just to cut the cleaning lady, buy from the thrift stores and forgo the pizza shop for home-made pizza. A recession such as this requires more resourcefulness.

A recession such as this requires more resourcefulness Last week, my son needed a book shelf for his growing collection of books. Most of them he received as Bar Mitzvah gifts, but lately he's added to his collection with new books he won at Yeshiva. As I was thinking about what to do, the 2009 Room & Board Catalog arrived at our door. I flipped through its pages and eyed a beautiful cherry bookcase, but the hefty price tag was way out of our budget. Then I saw something on one of the catalogue's pages: a simple vase with a pink flower - a rakefet in Hebrew, better known as Cyclamen in English.

This flower brought to mind the summer I was wandering the Judean Hills in Israel on a teen program. Our guide pointed out this lovely, pale pink flower with its petals pushed back like a swath of hair and its middle pointing 180° downward. It was literally growing out of a rock! The guide explained that despite its dry, rocky environment, the hardy rakefet could grow and thrive, even from the crags of a rock. This was a lesson in life I would not soon forget.

This year the beautiful cherry bookcase is out of the question. As necessity is the mother of invention, we fashioned a bookshelf from a piece of scrap wood and two cinder blocks in freed-up space in the bedroom closet. After patting myself on the back for being resourceful, the monthly tuition bill arrived as a reminder of recession. Finding the cash to pay tuition is not as easy as finding extra space in my son's bedroom.

An olive only yields oil after being crushed Budgeting and cutting back just doesn't cut it anymore. In this recession, we need to be a more resourceful, emulating the rakefet. In addition to managing a family, I now work full-time outside the home as well, a challenge I wasn't sure I could handle at first. In the past, I'd volunteered to organize space at our shul, our kids' school and camps- and even for friends. By Divine Providence, three months ago, a work-at-home mom referred to me by a camp director I had previously volunteered for called to hire me to organize her home-office. I decided to try it out. While the extra work as a professional organizer is a challenge to family life, I've grown from the experience, and the extra cash sure comes in handy.

Chassidic philosophy teaches that an olive only yields oil after being crushed. Likewise, Jews throughout the centuries endured hard times and in the end came out better for it. I took another look at my son's books on the make-shift bookshelf and enjoyed a feeling of nachat, of joy, that never could have come from the beautiful bookcase I did not buy. Like the rakefet, which despite its difficult dry home still grows gracefully from the cracks in the rocks, so, too, despite our parched economic environment, we can grow, even thrive, so long as we remain committed to the truly valuable things in life.

Since the writing of this article, my husband too has lost his job! But like the rakefet, we are finding new possibilities despite this rocky economy. While we are unsure how this story will unfold, we are seeing a lot of Divine Providence in our situation and finding new strength in the struggle. Like the rakefet and the Jewish people throughout the centuries, we trust in G‑d that we will not only survive but thrive.