Latest update: May 23rd, 2013
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,
I have wanted to write you for a long time because you helped me in such a profound way. I am so very thankful for your work, your message, your books, and your unapologetic call to all Jews to return to our Torah and heritage.
Three years ago, I was in the process of exiting the Messianic “Jewish” lifestyle. Your book, The Jewish Soul On Fire helped me to want to return to a true Torah lifestyle. Let me tell you how you helped save my Jewish neshamah:
I grew up as a secular Jew in the Five Towns and always had questions about G-d, life and the meaning of life. I would seek out answers but never got anything too satisfying. My neshamah was crying out for more than my Reform upbringing could offer. Sometimes, when my family went to “Temple” I asked if I could walk home. They wondered why their 10-year old would want to walk three miles. I told them that since the Orthodox do it and they’re closer to G-d, I wanted to do it too. I would also say the Shema every night before bed, not realizing that the Torah tells us to do that. I was seeking G-d.
The sad fact is that after many years of living without Torah truth to guide me, I fell prey to a Christian who “evangelized” me. He was one of the only people to ever initiate a conversation with me about G-d and the purpose of life, etc. I didn’t have enough knowledge or convictions about Judaism to refute him in any way. What he told me seemed to make sense. Thus began a 13-year journey in Christianity and then Messianic Judaism.
The sad fact is that all this happened right under the nose of a frum community. (The neighborhood in which I grew up was predominantly Orthodox,) Why didn’t any of them reach out to me? Why didn’t any of my Jewish neighbors invite me to their shul or Shabbos lunch or Sukkah? I might have accepted and listened.
During the years I followed Christianity/Messianic Judaism, my neshamah was still reaching out for authentic Jewish things. I loved spending time in Jewish bookstores. I purchased an ArtScroll siddur. I gravitated toward more tznius clothes. I also bought a Chumash, and eventually got into the habit of reading the weekly parshah each Shabbos.
I was trying to live as a Jew and a Christian at the same time. Impossible! It was a tug of war. Messianic Judaism is so awful because it tells Jewish people you can do such a thing, when the reality is you surely can’t.
Fast-forward 13 years. Around the time of Rosh Hashanah 2006/5767, I was up in the Five Towns, visiting my family. I borrowed your book, The Jewish Soul On Fire from the public library and I read it during my two-week visit in N.Y. During this time period, I also read Parshas Ha’azinu.
Between the piercing words of this parshah and the words in your book, I was moved to tears and deep sobs because I realized that as a Jewish person, I had an obligation to the covenant we made with Hashem at Sinai. That I was responsible to keep all the commandments in the Torah, not just the ones I felt like keeping or the ones that the Messianic Jews said to keep. Your book’s message really sunk deeply into my heart and convinced me that the Torah was the only path for the Jew. I knew that even though I didn’t understand everything written in the Torah, it was undoubtedly the way I wanted to follow.
Around this time, I also heard of several individuals who dared to leave Christianity/Messianic Judaism. These religions are very cult-like and it is very hard to leave. You are made to feel like you are in serious trouble if you dare to question the Christian doctrines. (Messianic Judaism is the exact same thing as Christianity no matter what anyone says.) You are made to fear that G-d will be against you and you are doomed. What lies! The individuals who left this cult-like mentality really piqued my interest.
I began to question all the doctrines I had clung to for 13 years. I dared to overcome my fears and use the critical mind Hashem gave me and question Christianity. Along with The Jewish Soul On Fire, there were several factors (“Jews for Judaism” website, reaching out to Gavriel Sanders and others) that helped me see that Christianity is no place for Jews, that the Christian Gospel which they refer to as the “New Testament” is not the continuation of the “old,” that it is not the fulfillment of the Torah.
Your book, The Jewish Soul On Fire, was a key factor and trigger in this major life change I was now facing. Thank you so much for writing this book! It truly helped me want to return to the Torah of my forefathers.
Now, three years later, I am living as a frum Jew with my husband and two young children. We are part of a wonderful community and shul in _________ ________. My children will go to the Jewish Day School in a few years. We are all happily serving Hashem and doing more and more mitzvos. My children and their children will not grow up Christian/Messianic. They will grow up frum Jews!Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
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