web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Important Moments In Becoming A Ba’al Teshuvah (Conclusion)

Lessons-logo

It was very important to me that other people learned about this Beginner’s Service, so I decided to write a letter to a Jewish publication. I had just seen a Woody Allen film whereby his character leaves Judaism for another religion. Responding to his mother’s troubled inquiry as to why he took this unfortunate route, the character says, “With Judaism, I guess I got off on the wrong foot.” With this in mind, I titled my letter, “The Right Foot.”

I described my experience at that church party and my encounter with the friendly people there, including the social worker and the Jewish priest. I expressed my sadness that some Jews get involved with such a church, not even knowing the beauty of what they’re giving up. I mentioned the “wrong foot” line from the Woody Allen movie, adding that if one wants to get on the “right foot” regarding Judaism there is a Beginner’s Service that I was attending. I left my answering service phone number for anyone seeking more details about this Beginner’s Service, where everything is explained in a patient and kind way.

I was grateful to receive a few calls from people wanting to learn more about their Jewish roots.

Then I got another call – from the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) – that would change my life. NJOP promoted beginner’s services around the country, and wanted more details about the service I attended in Cobble Hill so they could add it to their list of resources. The caller told me about the weekly Shabbos Beginner’s Service led by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald at Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Informing the caller that I was a playwright, he said, “That’s great. Rabbi Buchwald just had a play put on for the 10th anniversary of the Beginner’s Service.”

This was music to my ears. I called Rabbi Buchwald to gauge his interest in reading some of my Jewish-oriented plays for a possible production at his shul. He invited me to the shul’s Beginner’s Service. I accepted his invitation, and became a regular attendee for a full year.

Why did I keep attending the Beginner’s Service? Because of something with great impact that Rabbi Buchwald said to me: “I’m not asking you to give up your secular interests. I’m just asking you to put Judaism first.”

After that year under Rabbi Buchwald’s guidance, I began attending a synagogue in my Queens neighborhood as a Shomer Shabbos Jew. Yes, my plays’ characters returned to their Jewish roots – and I followed their path.

What ultimately led me to a deepening commitment to practice Judaism was my attendance at a church party and my revulsion at what I saw there. The beauty of a Susan and the warmth of people walking a different course in life than me can’t compare to the beauty, warmth and sense of being home that comes with following the path that is mine to traverse.

Alan Magill is the Senior Forum columnist for The Jewish Press.

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.

No Responses to “Important Moments In Becoming A Ba’al Teshuvah (Conclusion)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of the English-language Al Arabiya
President Obama, Listen to Netanyahu on Iran
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

More Articles from Alan Magill
Lessons-Emunah-logo

The simple act of kindness should be the reward itself. Anything more in the form of a reward is gravy.

Lessons-logo

Patience seems to be in such short supply these days, yet it can make a world of difference. This is particularly so in certain kinds of stressful situations whereby we think we only have time to act in a knee-jerk way instead of acting thoughtfully.

I recently heard a Pirkei Avos shiur in which the speaker said that our spiritual DNA derives from our patriarchs and matriarchs. The great tests they withstood and for which they gained ever greater prominence was witnessed by the Jews who followed them, many of whom succeeded in overcoming great challenges as well. It seems that an individual’s great effort helps the spiritual strength kick in.

The first and only time I said I was a rabbi was also the first and only time I had a gun pointed at me. What led me to that moment was my need to stay on the Upper West Side for a Shabbos and a hospitality committee that arranged for me to stay with a man who lived in the former janitor’s apartment on the fifth floor of a synagogue.

It is very important for Jews to first help family, then other Jews close to us, then Jews not as close. Next, if possible and appropriate, Jews should help those of any race or creed.

The five-year-old boy was in a church in Puerto Rico with his parents. As they and his grandparents were Catholics, that made him Catholic – as far as his young mind could figure.

I was preparing a shiur to honor the memory of my father, Paul Magill, a”h, on the 20th anniversary of his passing, and I was looking at that week’s sedrah, Parshas Re’eh. I was struck by the words, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing: that you hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, that I command you today. And the curse: if you do not hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, and you stray from the path that I command you today, to follow gods of others, that you did not know.”

Feeling more alone than at any time since arriving in New York, I looked inside myself for anything that could anchor me to bring me back to who I was, to move away from illusions of romance to my central sticking point. Suddenly and unexpectedly, being a Jew meant more to me than anything else in the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/important-moments-in-becoming-a-baal-teshuvah-conclusion/2012/07/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: