A little over a week ago, my family and I had a wonderful Shavuot experience that left me inspired. My husband and I, along with our children, were hospitably invited as the guest speakers and scholars to a wonderful community in Long Island, New York.

One of the things that I most enjoy about these lecture opportunities is the connection that often develops afterwards with some very special people in the audience. Inevitably, after sharing myself with the crowd, there are those who reciprocate and likewise come over to me to share of themselves. In these few precious moments, an intimate, strong bond of connection is often formed.

After one lecture, Sara (not her real name) pulled me over to a quiet corner and confided that she was a cancer survivor. Her doctor even refers to her as his "miracle patient." In a low voice, almost in a whisper, and with a tear threatening to fall from her clouded eyes, she explained how, according to the laws of nature, she really should not be here. She described how she had learned first-hand that the pains, struggles and challenges of our lives are often our greatest gift.

It was her unbearable and inexplicable back pains…suffered for many long weeks and adversely affecting the quality of her life… that eventually lead to the discovery of her aneurism…the meeting of a doctor from her native country whom she fully trusted, in the most unusual of places…the long, but successful, first operation…and the subsequent second...her trust in G‑d throughout…and finally the miraculous recovery, up to her standing opposite me, years later, tears of relief now flooding both of our eyes.

Soon after, Renee (not her real name) shared with me her bumpy path and her overflowing gratitude in reaching her present state. Renee had been involved in a serious relationship with a non-Jew. The two loved each other passionately and were inseparable. The plans for their future were bound to include one another—a blissful future in which they just knew that their deep love would overcome all odds and any obstacles.

But then somehow….at some indefinable point…Renee realized that despite her strong love…this was not where she belonged…

Today, Renee is married to a Jew and is the proud mother of five children—a set of triplets as well as twins, despite the fact that multiple births does not genetically run in her, or her husband's families. "I sincerely believe," Renee confided, her voice dropping an octave as she pointed out to me one of her sons, "that G‑d has generously paid me back and rewarded me for my decision—in multiples!"

And the stories continued…Gary, born in a small town, with his school experiences of classmates who were mostly non-Jews…Jerry who had his own life trials…

Each of these special moments of encounter left me feeling that these nameless individuals in the crowd had become close friends and confidantes.

But what inspired me most about this past Shavuot was the prayer services together with this warm community.

We were a diverse group of people, ranging in age, background and place of origin. There were many present to whom Hebrew was a completely foreign language, and others who simply had a fond but vague memory of it from their youth. To many, if not most, the services were an incomprehensible, ancient ritual, with little relevance to modern times or to their lives.

This year, Shavuot fell on a Monday and a Tuesday—days smack in the beginning of the work and school week. Many of the professionals or business individuals present would be sorely missed at their offices. Some would be rushing to return, their appointments awaiting them immediately after the services. To many of those there, a couple of months ago, or a couple of years ago, (and some even at this time), they had little understanding of the holiday and holiness of Shavuot or of its significance or meaning to them.

For most of the many children present, their classmates would have little understanding—and absolutely no envy—for their absence at school and for their voluntary presence at these services.

And yet…there were so many of us standing in that beautiful synagogue. We were there because intuitively, deep within each of us, we all understood—and felt even more so—that we as a nation were somehow different, and that it was important for us to be there.

Somehow, we all felt this elusive, but nevertheless, deeply ingrained connection with our Maker. And somehow, despite what each of us might or might not observe in our personal lives, despite what we do before or after the services, at this moment, we all wanted to reaffirm our connection and reiterate our willingness to become the nation of G‑d.

We stood together. There were the catchy songs. There were the usual old-timers. The usual shul jokes. The usual chazzan, chosen for his robust voice. There were those who were familiar with the rituals and more who obviously were not.

And then, right before the reading of the Ten Commandments, their rabbi, Rabbi Yaakov Saacks, asked the children—our nation's guarantors—standing together on the podium, if they would accept upon themselves this Torah…this Jewishness…this responsibility and obligation to our world…this connectedness to one another and to the One above…

Emotionally, the children all responded to their beloved rabbi, with the expected and resounding "yes."

But the presence of all of us at that moment, in Little-Town America, standing on a workday Monday afternoon, unified in our anticipation to once again reaccept upon ourselves the Torah, was to me, even more resounding evidence to the absolute strength, connection and eternity of our People.