I am a 34-year-old happily married woman with two children. I adore and love my husband of 17 years more and more each day. And yet, there came a point in my lifeI was searching for more; something I could not quite identifiy where I was searching for more. Something I could not quite identify. Perhaps a new and exciting intimate world with my life partner, perhaps something else. The truth is, I didn’t quite know what I was looking for. In my head, I had my own personal mystery to solve.

Enter my friend Amanda Spiro (Sculnick), who I’ve known most of my life but lost contact with for a while. In those intervening years, Amanda became Torah-observant, married and had two children. She re-entered my life at the right time and the right place. It was a reconnection that goes beyond what can be expressed in words, but I will try.

The Questions

Our friendship was rekindled at a challah bake Amanda was leading in her house for a few of my friends, all of whom were interested and curious in what Judaism has to offer. Once I saw her again—how she lived, her quiet peacefulness—I quickly realized that she held the missing piece of my life, which was still a mystery, but getting closer to being resolved.

After that evening, it was as though we had never lost contact, speaking to each other not daily, but hourly! Whether it was to check in on how the days were going, how the kids were, planning her Shabbat menu ... the list was endless.

Early into our new-old friendship, she brought up visiting the mikvah, gently asking if I’d ever been. My response was a simple and innocent one: Why do I need to go to the mikvah? I’m not religious. I have an amazing intimate life, so why would I choose to refrain from intimacy and physical contact with my husband?

The Piece of the Puzzle

After many conversations, many questions and many answers, I am proud to say that I now go to the mikvah on a regular basis.

Before you read on, know this: I did notThe mikvah has brought me closer write this piece as an advertisement for the mikvah. This comes from the depth of my soul, written from my heart. It’s just the simple truth. The mikvah has brought me closer to my husband, has brought me closer to G‑d and has actually taught me the true meaning of absence making the heart grow fonder.

The quality of our intimacy and the connection that I have with my husband is so much greater—not as I first thought it would be. Not one kiss or touch is taken for granted on the days when intimacy is encouraged.

Along with learning about the mikvah, I saw not only the beauty that Judaism has to offer, but slowly, the hand of G‑d in life’s little details. Little did I know that G‑d was setting in place the tools I would desperately need in my life, more than I ever could have imagined.

An Unexpected Bonus

I began learning about the inner secrets of the mikvah on a weekly basis with Mrs. Chani Carlbach, one of the foremost teachers on this subject. As time went on, I slowly realized that Judaism has unlimited facets, like an uncut diamond. There are levels and depths that enhance the beauty and act of each mitzvah we do. My life as a wife, mother, daughter and friend were becoming deeply enriched. And then ...

On March 26, 2020, in the middle of the lockdown during the pandemic, my beloved mother, Bracha bas Fraida, was struck with COVID-19. It is a relentless, non-discriminatory illness. Through my newfound learning, I instinctively knew that I had to do two things simultaneously: steel myself for what was coming—gathering all the strength in my body to do so—while at the same time hand over the process of curing my mother to the professionals and to G‑d. I had to let go of the dream that I was in control.

Over the next seven weeks, I ran the gamut of every emotion one can have. It was brutal. At the same time, I was learning to delve deeper into what it means to “believe in G‑d.” I always knew there were no atheists in a foxhole, and now I was living it.

My mother would always tell me that sheMy mother is on the road to recovery really feels when people are praying for her, and that’s what I did every day. My Shabbat candles seem to be the brightest I have ever lit in my life.

Thanks to the kindness of G‑d and the prayers of many people, my mother is on the road to recovery. In my heart, I know it’s because G‑d wanted her still to be with us and her grandchildren. I also know that during the worst part of her illness, my mother felt our prayers.

A Guiding Light

I am a regular at Amanda’s Shabbat table and have met many of her wonderful, warm and gracious friends. I have figured out, slowly but surely, that one’s willpower can change almost anything. But most of all, I am beyond thankful to G‑d for bringing me back to my friend.

If I had to share one thought with people, it would be that when you meet or reconnect with someone who can reconnect you with your soul, grab her hand and don’t let go. In reality, it is G‑d tapping you on the shoulder, telling you, “My beloved Jewish daughter, I have not forgotten you.”

The path that you will begin to walk will be lit with a radiant brightness, guiding you to a place that was always there for the taking. The gift of G‑d’s mitzvahs.