My father was a hypocrite. He pretended to take on a religious lifestyle, but it was all fake. He never spent time with any of us and didn't seem to care less, so we all rebelled and left the whole Judaism thing.

Problem is, now I'm in college, I have some observant friends and I'm really attracted to Judaism and a Jewish lifestyle. But I can't go that way, because of my dad. Where do I go?


You go where you want to go. But to do that, you need to rewrite your story. I'll explain:

When you were a little kid, did anyone ever read you Crockett Johnson's little book, "Harold and His Purple Crayon"? It's about this little boy in pajamas who starts drawing pictures on the wall, eventually creating a journey complete with roads and trees, towns and train tracks—and then becomes scared and lost because the creatures his crayon has drawn are so much bigger than him.

Making stories out of the events of life is every human being's favorite pastime. We like to imagine that our stories are no more than an account of life as it happens. Yet, truth be told, there's no story to life until we tell it. Sure, there's more than a wall and a crayon—there's all those events that happened one after the other, people with lives other than our own, the weather, geography, DNA. But we are the ones to string them together with meaning and direction, to create a narrative.

Nothing has greater impact on your life than those stories. The creatures of the story may be real, but it's you who decides the plot and theme. Are you the victim or the hero? Are you just passing through or are you the guy in charge? With a story you can imprison yourself within four walls, put an iron roof above your head and quicksand beneath your feet—or you can seat yourself in the cockpit of a rocket ship to your destiny. You are the author, and no matter how big the characters of the story may be, you will always hold the crayon in your hand.

My friend, you've written a narrative that brings you up against a brick wall. Let's go back and rewrite the story, this time scripting it to get you out of the back seat of your dad's car and behind the wheel of your own.

I'll keep it real simple: Your father tried to do teshuvah, to return to his Jewish roots. He wanted to be a good Jew, but he failed. You saw where he went wrong and you know how to do it right. Now, as you approach the exit to your own highway, you can choose to take it in the opposite direction or take over where your father left off. You can create your own future and heal his past and yours.

The characters of the story are prisoners of time. But the author is its master. As you rewrite the tale of your past, so your future will proceed.