It is only now, nearly thirty years since becoming observant, that I want to share everything about the journey. I had been encouraged to write about the process as soon as I started, but if my first piece is any indication, it's a good thing I waited all these years.

It was called The Pain of Passover.

I don't even remember who asked me to write it or what became of the piece. I tried looking for it on my computer, but couldn't find it. It's probably better that way.

I was terrified the forbidden stuff could be anywhere and everywhere

My first Passover, make that Passovers, plural, were quite difficult. As a new ba'al teshuvah (Jewish returnee), I went a bit overboard, to say the least. My rabbi told me to clean my house for chametz (leavened grain products), and I was terrified the forbidden stuff could be anywhere and everywhere—the cracks of my wood floor, the bindings of books (the one-in-a-million chance they were opened is still a chance, right?). I banned Play-Doh from my house forever (total chametz), and I hunted down every last Cheerio. At stake was my rightful place as part of the Jewish people.

But the real pain wasn't the cleaning or even the cooking. (That's a whole other story.)

The pain of Passover was an indescribable, overwhelming feeling of sadness.

Passover was so hard because I felt abandoned by my ancestors.

Who was to blame for the fact that I knew nothing about the cooking, the customs, the cleaning, the meaning?

Now, so many Passovers later, I understand better that "blaming" is futile because nothing happens unless G‑d wants it to. I will never know the who, the how, the when, and the why, and it doesn't matter anymore.

Because now, with G‑d's help, my husband and I are the new ancestors, the Zeidy and Bubbe, the ones who can impart to our grandchildren what got lost in translation when our ancestors came to these shores.

I was at a beauty salon a while ago, and the esthetician moved my sheitel away from my face. "It's a wig," I told her. "I wear it for religious reasons."

"Really?" she asked. "Do you mind if I ask what religion you are?"

I said I was Jewish.

"Wait a minute, I don't understand," she said, totally dumbfounded. "I have lots of Jewish women who come to me, and none of them wear wigs. What are you talking about?"

This was where we came from

I laughed to myself. How would I explain the story of the American Jewish experience in the course of a 15-minute appointment?

"It's a long story," I said. "One thing I know. All of your Jewish clients had ancestors who were observant."

For me, this fact was a turning point when my husband and I considered observant Jewish life. This was where we came from.

We couldn't come up with a good enough reason not to return to it; the only reasons for our non-observance were circumstantial.

Picking up where our ancestors left off was very challenging, and at times painful. But now, nearly thirty years later, I am grateful beyond words that we did it.