web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



The Convert and the Gadol Hador


Ahuvah Gray

Ahuvah Gray

“When you are inexperienced and new to Yiddishkeit you figure, what do I have to lose? I think it’s called chutzpah!” With the honesty and good natured candor that have made her a much sought after lecturer across the Jewish spectrum, African-American convert Ahuvah Gray, recounts the remarkable story of her personal encounter with Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, z”tl.

Among Ahuvah’s dearest friends in Bayit Vegan are Rabbi Laibl and Rebbetzin Chaya Heyman and it was to the rebbetzin that she turned one day, fourteen years ago with an unusual request. “I told her that I wanted to get a bracha for a shidduch from Rav Elyashiv. Sensing the urgency of the request the Rebbetzin agreed to call the Rav’s daughter, Rebbetzin Leah Auerbach. Within ten minutes she had arranged for a private meeting with Rav Elyashiv for that Erev Shabbos.”

The awe in her voice is palpable as Ahuvah describes the remarkable scene that unfolded that fateful day. “It was Chol Hamoed and there were four of us in the room in Meah Shearim, myself, a friend visiting from Los Angeles who was fluent in Hebrew, Rebbetzin Auerbach and the Rav.”

While immersed in his studies Rav Elyashiv began to ask Ahuvah questions, in Hebrew. Her friend acted as a translator. Rav Elyashiv did not look up during the entire ten-minute question and answer session. He asked where she lived and how long had she lived in Bayit Vegan. He asked who her rav was. When she answered Rabbi Laibl Heyman, he smiled. He asked where she davened.

Before they concluded Ahuvah requested that her friend ask the rav for a bracha for a shidduch. When she heard his answer a strange look came over her friend’s face and she hesitated before she told Ahuvah, “The rav said to tell you he can’t perform miracles.”

Ahuvah thought carefully before she spoke, conscious that she was in the presence of the Gadol Hador. “Please tell the Rav that I know he can’t perform miracles but Hashem can.”

Upon hearing these wise words Rav Elyashiv, “looked up at us for the first time and smiled and then gave me a beautiful bracha from his heart.” For Ahuvah Gray it “felt like my life had been transformed being in the presence of the holiest man I have ever had the privilege of meeting.”

For years Ahuvah had been asking Hashem, “Why didn’t I convert when I was younger? Certainly it would have been better in terms of making a shidduch. But now I was beginning to understand a bit better. I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment when I was younger. I wasn’t ready to give up my career in corporate America and all of my life goals. My conversion happened exactly and precisely at the moment Hashem wanted it to happen, at a time in my life when I could be a mentor to young people.”

And mentor she has, all over the world. Audiences have been riveted by the inspiring story of how she overcame challenges, from family and colleagues, to achieve her goal – living as a Jew in the land of Israel.

In 2002 Ahuvah Gray was invited by Encounter, a kiruv organization in London, to participate in a conference where she was the keynote speaker along with HaRav Yisroel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, Chief Rabbi of England and renowned authors and lecturers Rabbi Akiva Tatz and Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen.

That encounter, as well, as the remarkable story of her conversion, which involved Rav Yosef She’ar Yashuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa and Rav Bakshi Doron, the chief Sephardic Rabbi, are included in a documentary of her extraordinary life currently in production. The film traces her humble beginnings from a child of the rural south to her climb up the corporate ladder and ultimately her aliyah.

Over the years, many of the young women Ahuvah inspired became frequent visitors to her home during their year of study in Israel. Two girls who I originally met when I lectured at Hasmonean High School in London spent their days off from seminary studying with me from Rav Avrohom Chaim Feuer’s Tehillim Treasury. At the conclusion of the semester one of girls, Sally, wanted to start dating. Ahuvah suggested she ask Rav Elyashiv for a bracha.

Ahuvah marvels at the memory of that evening. “There were so many people waiting to see Rav Elyashiv, I assumed we were going to be there all night. So I settled into a chair and began saying Tehillim. Suddenly the door opened and a tall gentleman motioned for us to come directly in. All Sally could say was ‘Ahuvah, how did you do that?’” She later learned that Rebbetzin Auerbach, who visited her father daily, had notified him that Ahuvah would be arriving with a seminary student. Sally received her bracha and today lives with her husband and children in Israel.

Ahuvah merited accompanying hundreds of seminary girls to Rav Elyashiv’s home over a fourteen-year period and she is happy to report that they have all married. “They didn’t necessarily meet their bashert in Israel but would e-mail me once they became a kallah. I was always excited when I received the wedding invitation to their chuppah.” As for her bashert? “My time will come.”

It is this generosity of spirit that compelled Ahuvah to write her latest book, In Search of Hidden Treasures: Stories of Faith, Love, and Hashgacha Pratis. During her travels she has heard many miraculous stories at a variety of Shabbos tables throughout the world and she was eager to share these personal stories of triumph with a wider audience.

“The focus of this book is about the Chagim. As a convert, I feel a special connection to Rosh Hashanah. Just as the ancestors of the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt, my Jewish neshamah was enslaved in a non- Jewish body. On Rosh Hashanah I remember my personal exodus from slavery to freedom.”

Eighteen years ago Ahuvah Gray changed her name and her mazal when she arrived in Israel, blessed to be living among the Torah scholars and Sages in Jerusalem. Reflecting on the profound influence gedolim like Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, z”tl have had on her extraordinary journey she acknowledges, “As a result of observing their lives on a daily basis, I am a recipient of their Torah treasures that have awoken the seeds in my own neshamah and enhanced my path to Judaism.”

To learn more about the life and teachings of this devoted bas Yisrael please visit her website Ahuvahgray.com.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “The Convert and the Gadol Hador”

  1. My latest article in The Jewish Press.

  2. Sonia Beker says:

    Beyond inspiring!!!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The three salesmen -Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz
Netanyahu Tries to Sell Bill of Goods that Israel Won Goals in the War
Latest Indepth Stories
Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.

There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”

Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.

Is Woodstock still leading the world to destruction?

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

More Articles from Helen Zegerman Schwimmer
Ahuvah Gray

“When you are inexperienced and new to Yiddishkeit you figure, what do I have to lose? I think it’s called chutzpah!” With the honesty and good natured candor that have made her a much sought after lecturer across the Jewish spectrum, African-American convert Ahuvah Gray, recounts the remarkable story of her personal encounter with Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, z”tl.

Schwimmer-100512-Ocean-Pkwy

Picture it, a busy Sunday afternoon with traffic moving briskly along Ocean Parkway, a major Brooklyn thoroughfare linking the brownstones of Park Slope in the north with the beaches and amusement parks of Coney Island in the south. Suddenly everything comes to a halt.

As the members of the I.D.F. lined up for the daily flag raising ceremony held on the Tel Hashomer Army Base outside of Tel Aviv, Gloria Schreiber approached the flagpole with a mixture of pride and awe. Standing at attention, dressed in fatigues, she grasped the rope, pulled gently and watched the white and blue flag slowly ascend.

Levana Kirschenbaum, restaurateur, master chef, cooking teacher and author, has just published the ultimate cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple. This is her magnum opus, a book that takes kosher cooking to a whole new level; with everything we ever needed to know about preparing healthy cuisine from soup to nuts.

“What’s new?”

It was a casual question, posed to me by Irene Klass when we met at a Jewish women’s lecture during the fall of 1994.

When seven year-old Ariel tearfully ran into the kitchen complaining of pain it was his younger brother Shalom who came to the rescue. “Should I get you something to learn so you will feel better?” asked the six year old?

The idyllic countryside of Sobibor bears no resemblance to the large, efficient extermination camp once located in that remote corner of eastern Poland. Among the 250,000 Jews murdered during its 18 months of operation were the members of my mother’s family. I didn’t learn the details of their deaths until I was an adult, but I understood at a very young age that I had no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins because someone called Hitler had killed them.

It’s a story that’s familiar to every student of American history. In 1620, the Pilgrims fled England aboard the Mayflower and founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, where they could freely practice their religion. A little known, but equally significant, historical event took place just a few years later in 1658, when another group seeking a haven from religious persecution sailed into Newport Harbor in Rhode Island and founded Congregation Jeshuat Israel.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/the-convert-and-the-gadol-hador/2013/01/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: