A Jewish Life Without Walls – Stories of Return – Chabad.org

Posted By on December 5, 2019

When I came to experience the yearning tofind my way as a Jew, I stumbled a lot just looking for a place to be part ofany group that would give me a jumping-off point. At first, I was just lookingfor other Jews to be with in an attempt to stem the growing feeling ofdisconnection from what my heart said I wanted and needed.

In those initial attempts to find aI stumbled a lotspiritual landing place, many of the services I attended were at struggling,nascent congregations, as ill-formed in their efforts to become full-fledgedcongregations as I was in my effort to find my Jewish soul.

One small congregation met in a church,where the rabbi covered any Christian symbols with cloths to hide them duringthe services. Somehow, though, they were still there for mea confusing anddiscomfiting reminder of my own Christian upbringing, despite the fact that mybirth parents were both Jews.

Another rabbi held services in a commonroom at a home for the aged, making the interactions with others interesting,to say the least.

When I moved to Alabama, I finally joineda synagogue. I paid my dues, but could not really participate as I would haveliked because the synagogue was quite a distance from where I live, and neithermy husband nor I see well enough to regularly drive long distances at night.

However, I really liked the rabbi. He wasrelatively young, smart and dedicated to serving his congregants, many of whomlived long distances from the synagogue. He made an effort to include all of usin Torah studies and lively discussions. He was a scholar who both wrote andcontributed to books, and a progressive leader interested in growing thecongregation and the youth program. Unfortunately, a political power struggleleft him without a pulpit and with a congregation in tatters. The rift was uglyand irreparable, and left me spiritually homeless once again.

I needed a new path to follow so that mysearch for Yiddishkeit would not dead end. A dear friend suggested that I speakwith the local Chabad rabbi, and even gave him my number and had him call me.

Soon he was sitting in my living room,and there began for me a new understanding of what being Jewish means. Duringour initial conversation, I was a little nervous. I didnt know what to askhowto express my need to this obviously Orthodox rabbi, so my initial questionwas: Are there many Chabad Jews in the area?

His answer put me immediately at ease. Helet me know that he does not pigeonhole Jews. To him, each Jew, each person issacred and important as part of our birthright, and worthy of respect withoutexpectation or label. What a breath of fresh air! All of a sudden, I belongedjust by virtue of being Jewish. It didnt matter whether I paid dues to aninstitution or carried a designation such as Reform, Conservative or Orthodox.

What a revelation to discover that it is All of a sudden, I belongedmy own striving to do good, to pray, to study and learn, to do mitzvahs, toopen my heart to my Creator, and to create a life of hope for myself and thosearound me that makes me Jewish. It is what I was born to and my rightful place.

Thanks to a rabbi who is part of theChabad-Lubavitch movement, I am welcomed as part of the family of Jews who loveone another just as we areand not because we are card-carrying performers of aproscribed faith. This freeing, liberating love emanates from the teachings ofthe RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. Even 25 yearsafter his death, his vision of taking care of the physical and spiritual needsof every Jew worldwide is carried out by his emissaries.

And as a result, I and those like me whosearch for a place of Jewish spiritual rest, find it. We need no designation tobe more, learn more, give more to the effort of just being a Jew among Jews.Like the walls of Jericho, what once kept us from freedom to just be Jewish hascome tumbling down.

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A Jewish Life Without Walls - Stories of Return - Chabad.org

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