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Stories of Return

Rather than becoming disillusioned with the Orthodox community, I became disillusioned with the liberal, feminist, secular values of my college campus and peers.
He Flew From London to New York for Reasons He’d Never Imagined
Levi is a shliach in Edgware, England, and he was the last person I expected in the midst of a global pandemic, but I was happy to see him.
The First Time I Celebrated Chanukah
On the windowsill stood a silver candelabra large enough to hold nine candles and a box of tall candles. I understood I was being initiated into a rite I hadn’t known existed until that moment.
She Never Knew Her Great-Great-Grandma Was Jewish
We can count the number of apples on an apple tree, but we can never know how many trees will grow from the seeds hidden in each apple.
My new name held a softness to it, yet lent strength to my effort to heal and begin to live life again as a whole, and wholly new, person.
How Two Russian-Born Crypto-Jews Rediscovered Their Identity
One day, as I was washing my grandmother’s hands before eating challah, Svetlana smiled and said that she, too, was Jewish. I was surprised because she often mentioned her Greek Orthodox beliefs and wore a crucifix around her neck.
The Signposts Along My Road Towards a Torah-Observant Life
I had always felt like a fraud in a church, quite torn, but didn’t know how to begin to live life as a Jew. So I slogged along, well into middle age, not knowing where to begin.
Looking for Truth: A Conversion on the Rebbetzin’s Birthday
While living in Greece, Irini had a Jewish friend in high school and was required to study the Old Testament in theology classes. This gave her some basic knowledge about the Jewish people.
How Do You Feel Connected to a Man You Never Knew?
What is 770? What is Eastern Parkway? You’re born and raised in Brooklyn, a 30-minute drive from there, but you have no idea that place exists or why it does.
Tapping Into My Newfound Faith in the Face of COVID-19
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.
Swapping the Cross of My Childhood for a Star of David
My journey to find my Jewish reality is fairly recent and in the beginning was quite tentative. When I began to seek out places to go to services, I had no idea how healing that would be.
How the Impossible Dream of a Chinese Girl Turned Jewish Came True
My mother and I needed to choose my first destination. It needed to be a country that would open its doors to a 15-year-old Chinese-born girl.
My Journey From Pakistani Muslim to Jerusalemite Jew
My parents were secular Muslims who respected their religion; we all prayed and observed the holidays and some of the fasts. I turned out to be the most religious of the four daughters
A Jewish Life Without Walls
I stumbled a lot just looking for a place to be part of any group that would give me a jumping-off point.
Leaning Into Yiddishkeit: A Short Story of Jewish Growth
In the light of that small shining candle, I saw his smile, which came easily, and often, and lit up the lives of those around him.
Celebrating My First True Shabbat
The intimacy and grace of this shared Shabbat—my very first true celebration of Shabbat—cannot be adequately expressed. My husband and I were welcomed into this observant household with no preconceived expectations. We were simply welcomed.
A Letter to the Family Members of Those Who Returned to a Torah Way of Life
No one knows how we’ve been able to survive for 2,000 years, scattered among the nations of the world. Yet today there is an undeniable connection between the Jewish people, regardless of their language, background or social status. What kept us together, separate, “chosen” for more than 2,000 years?
My Grandfather’s Shema, Even in the Barracks of Auschwitz
I know why I am here. Why I became the woman that I am. How I was guided to this incredible life. It was my grandfather’s Shema.
The Marvelous Mysterious Kosher Kitchen
Recently, I had my first experience preparing kosher food.
Pondering Jew
A Journey of Spiritual Growth
Judaism Didn't Fix My Life, I Need to Do It
I thought that when I discovered Torah Judaism 12 years ago, it would fix me.
What Happened When I Needed to Work on a Jewish Holiday
The idea of not driving or working on any Jewish holiday was not something I grew up with. Finally, in 2017, I decided that I would no longer work on any Jewish holiday. Of course, until I ran into a major roadblock …
The Path to Religion Is Bumpy and Lonely, Yet Beautiful
My husband is with me on this journey, and although we are different, we are now working together, as unique individuals with common goals.
My First Peek Into the Universe Called ‘770’
Since we were clearly visitors, people made room for us and guided us to the front so we could see through large, tinted windows.
It Took a Teen to Reconnect With My Torah Learning
Though she is 13 years my junior, after every one-hour learning session with her, I leave feeling reinvigorated, ready to dive deeper into Judaism and to take on more mitzvot.
Why, Oh Why, Oh Why? My Inquisitive Journey to Mitzvot
I decided that whatever was done in my husband’s home to yield such strength, we would do in ours. So when he said, “I want to keep kosher and Shabbat”—traditions many European Jews keep—I replied, “Show me what to do.”
My family and I stood at the foot of my great-great-grandmother Mathilde Weil's former home, installing a Stolperstein (“stumbling stone”) in her memory.
How I Became a Halachic Jew
So what about me and others like me, the “boring” converts? Should we take advantage of the fact that our secret is safe?
A Soul at Sinai: From a Life in Germany to a Life in Israel
When I joined my mother for the weekly visits to the church, I felt something wasn’t right.
Wishing I Had Been More Sensitive on the Path to Change
I let too many people who had once helped me become strangers.
A Five-Year Detour: My Path to Becoming Observant
I stumbled upon Chabad seemingly by accident shortly before I finished university.
The Road to Going Kosher
I didn’t fully understand why non-kosher meat was off-limits, but the ethics behind it—coupled with my appreciation of an animal’s suffering and my acceptance of the Torah’s laws—keeps me from going back to meat that was slaughtered in a non-kosher manner.
Family Discovery Redux: More Intrigue From My Ancestry
When I received a recent email from the widow of a distant French cousin, I had absolutely no idea how the information it contained would turn my life upside-down.
How I Found Judaism and Experienced Miracles
I vowed to never associate myself with Jews, except for my family. I kept that vow till I was 56 years old.
My Chicken Soup Journey
I grew up in a home without chicken soup—no Friday-night candles, no sweet challah, no Shabbat dinner at all.
How I Overcame a Childhood of Bland Judaism
Our definition of being Jewish just meant that we weren’t anything else.
History Revealed: Discovering My Jewish Roots
I was born into what appeared to be a typical non-Jewish American family, in a small town in Illinois. No one in my family adhered to any religious beliefs.
How to Become Religious Without Losing Yourself
About 10 years ago I fell head over heels in love with Judaism . . .
My New Kosher Kitchen
How did I get to this point? Of not only wanting to have a kosher kitchen, but actually having it koshered?
Of Kapotehs, Ladders and Crazy, Lit-up Rabbis
After years of watching these and other animated, enthusiastic rabbis, with their interesting and industrious ways of approaching holidays—and every day, for that matter—I have learned that sometimes it’s me who is missing a tune.
I Took the Road Less Traveled—and Stayed There
“You’re going to sit home ALONE instead of driving to shul to be with other Jews at Shabbat services?!” my parents demanded.
A Mother-Daughter Journey Back To Judaism
“Spiritual journey”—it's a cliché, but I don't know a better way to describe it.
From a Disco Miracle to Wigs for Sick Women
At a young age, she announced that she was going to have a home just like theirs when she grew up, with a big Shabbat table and many children...
The Beauty Queen of South Africa Finds the Beauty of Judaism
In 1973, Ellen Peters, a Protestant biracial woman, was chosen as South Africa’s beauty queen. Today, she goes by the name Ilana Skolnick, and she is an observant Jew.
From Dutch Theater to Challah Workshops
Smadar Morag used to try hard to hide her Judaism, which she considered a burden . . .
Significant Moments
This conversation, a conversation that took place over 30 years ago, stands out as a most significant moment on my way to observance.
Chasing Judaism
I am no longer chasing something out of reach. Judaism has permeated my life and integrated into who I am, how I act, the way I think and the choices I make.
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