My name is David and I became religious a number of years ago through JAM at UCLA. From my exposure to traditional Judaism I was inspired to share what I found and developed www.SimpleToRemember.com. My family reacted in a rather unusual way to all of their kids becoming religious and I wanted to share that story with you. Here is a speech my Mom gave at a JAM function not so long ago.
I have 3 Orthodox children. I’m thrilled that my children are following the Torah.
How did this happen? We did not raise them like this! We are not Orthodox!
Please allow me to tell you a little bit about myself and the path that led us here……..
My Bubie and Zade came from Romania. They met in Chicago and had 9 children. My Mom was the oldest daughter.
I was raised by my Mom. My Dad died when I was 4 years old. My only sibling was my brother Eddie. He was 2 years older than me. I went to Sunday school from the age of four. I celebrated all the traditional Jewish holidays and had a truly wonderful childhood!
I was brought up knowing that when I married, I could ONLY marry a nice, Jewish boy!
Tragedy struck in 1969 when I was fourteen years old. My brother Eddie, who had been involved in the Boy Scouts from the age of seven, finally achieved the highest rank possible in scouting, that of “Eagle Scout”. Mom wanted to make sure he had plenty of male role models. Eddie went on a cross country skiing trip with three other boy scouts and one adult Scout Leader. They went to the San Bernardino Mountains for what was to be a cross county skiing trip from point A to point B. As fate would have it, the Scout leader took them off the trail. Then, as the newspapers said at the time, the worst blizzard in the last 80 years hit the mountains. When rescue patrols were sent out to look for these boys, they could not find them because they were not on the trail. It was horrible. These young boys and the adult were not found until the snow melted, 3 months later.
My Mom never recovered from this loss. I grew up overnight.
I met my wonderful husband Brian when I was sixteen. He was eighteen. He was a nice Jewish boy from a good home. We married one week after I turned 18. That was 31 years ago.
We had our three kids Shari, David and Michael. They attended Sunday school and were Bar and Bat Mitzvahed.
When Shari turned 16, she had had enough of Temple. It did not make sense. She did not believe much when it came to being Jewish. We did not push her.
Years later, a wonderful opportunity presented itself!! Through a friend my son David met at UCLA, he was introduced to J.A.M. He went to a couple of events and a few Shabbat dinners. Soon after, he told us that J.A.M. was organizing a trip to New York with at least 50 other kids! The itinerary included sightseeing and interesting classes about Judaism. He absolutely loved it! Afterwards, he went to more Shabbat dinners and more classes. David brought his sister Shari along for a Shabbat dinner. She ALSO went on a New York trip. She ALSO had a fantastic time.
(What was happening to my family?)
The following summer, Shari signed on for a three week program in Israel through J.A.M. Toward the end of the 3 weeks, she called home saying that she wanted to stay a little longer. We said fine.
Then a few weeks after that, we got ANOTHER phone call. This one was different;she wanted to stay a few months.
She ended up staying there 8 months. When she came home, she was a different person. She was more mature and more focused. She brought Shabbat into our home. I always cooked for the family, but our dinners seemed more special on SHABBAS ! In her own way, she set an example for David and Michael.
In the meantime, David was doing a lot of learning on his own. Having his older sister home, watching her in action, living what she had learned, made an impression. NOW DAVID WANTED TO GO TO A YESHIVA!!
Shari and David left home on the same day! THAT WAS AN EMOTIONAL DAY!! She went back to Israel; he went to New York and eventually to Israel.
One day Shari called to say she had started dating a nice Jewish Yeshiva Boy! Orthodox dating is quick. Shari and Alex married in Jerusalem. The wedding made quite an impression on all of us, especially my younger son Michael. Now he had a sister, bother and brother in law, all FRUM!!
Our David came home in August for five weeks. It was just great having him home. I kept a Kosher home. It was easy. To do this for our son was a joy. Now I am buying only kosher meats!
The day that David left to go back to Israel, Michael came to me and said:
”Mom, there is something I have to tell you.”
“What is it Michael?”
“I want to go to Israel! I want to go to a Yeshiva!”
There are very few mothers in Los Angeles who can say that they have three children learning Torah in Israel. I take great pride in being one of those mothers.
Countless times in my life, I have asked, “Why?” Why did G-d take my Dad? He was a young man with two small children. Why did he take my brother? He was only 16. But I accept that G-d runs the World.
My son David is my brother’s namesake. It was my David who has inspired his sister’s involvement in Torah. My brother lives on thru my David!! My younger son Michael, at 17, is inspired by and looks up to his brother and sister. Perhaps that was what G-D has planned?
I know my children are going to live beautiful lives. They are going to raise magnificent intellectual, sensitive, thoughtful families. I could not be happier. This journey is only beginning and every step counts! I thank G_d for J.A.M. I thank G_d for Rabbi and Bracha Zaret and their commitment to Judaism. It is because of their influence that has forever altered my children’s lives, our lives, the lives of our grandchildren and their children! Thank you.
By the way………..my Shari is expecting………I’m going to have, G-d willing, a FRUM FROM BIRTH grandchild!
I know My Mom, my brother Eddie and my father are watching out for all of us.