web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Just One Speech


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Back when we established Hineni, kiruv – outreach – was practically a foreign concept. The observant community had no confidence in these “newcomers” to Torah. “They will never last,” people warned me. “For a brief while,” they conceded, “it may work, but they have no real commitment, and their involvement is fleeting.” As for secular Jews, their attitudes ranged from hostility to outright suspicion and fear.

Generations have since passed and we now see both camps were wrong. The ba’al teshuvah movement has become a powerful force, changing Jewish lives throughout the world. The pintele Yid in the Jewish neshamah may be dormant, but with just a little spark we can ignite an entire soul.

Over the years I have received thousands of letters and e-mails, all testifying that just one speech – yes, just one speech — can change and elevate not only an individual but families and communities. The following are excerpts from one such e-mail I recently received. In our dismal world, it is inspirational and spiritually uplifting to know there is another side to the “assimilation coin” and that Jews of all ages and backgrounds are coming home.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I must begin by saying Thank You. Three years ago my life jerked to a halt and I was forced to stop and think deeply for the first time. Had someone told me that night what was going to become of myself and my family, I would not have believed it.

I lived what one might call a typical suburban lifestyle — attending summer camp, playing sports, going to secular schools, being a Jew among Jews and non Jews, feeling partially connected because of the lifestyle we outwardly shared but partially disconnected because inwardly my family was different from the other families on the block, in my school, and in my temple. This was not only because I had a family that made an effort to sit down every night of the week to have dinner together, but rather because my father was searching for something he knew was missing from his life.

When my father hit his forties my mother told him he had to get his head out of work and “find a hobby.” Long story short, he went searching for G-d. My mother soon came to regret her suggestion to my father, as her entire world turned upside down.

My father grew in Yiddishkeit, slowly working his way from Reform to Conservative and then, Baruch Hashem, to Orthodox. Our regular family Friday night dinners slowly went from non-kosher matzah ball soup and challah to semi-kosher and finally to kosher. My father’s progression angered, frustrated, and challenged my mother, as with every new thing he took on she felt the infrastructure on which they had built their family slowly being taken down brick by brick.

My father’s rebbeim told him it was important he get his children learning — that they were young and needed a true understanding of Torah. So my older brother began, at the age of 9 or 10, learning a couple of hours a week after school and a few years later, also at about age 9, I began learning a couple of hours a week after school with a rebbetzin.

My parents’ household tug of war continued, but as they still loved each other very much, they eventually worked out every odd and end that came their way. As my brother and I got older, we continued living our lives in the secular school system with our secular friends. Our mother continued to stress sitting down every weekday and weekend dinner together, and eventually my father’s Shabbosim became my mother’s dinner parties.

As my father’s observance of Torah became stronger and stronger, my brother and I felt extreme guilt as Shabbos and Judaism became a burden to us. But our lives continued in relatively normal fashion. My brother went into the Israeli army, as my father had raised us to be strong Zionists (we had visited Israel almost every year from the time we were young children). Once again people viewed us as the strange ones — our father wore a funny thing on his head, didn’t eat out, had strings sticking out of his pants, didn’t go out on Friday nights or Saturday, and now my brother was crazy for going thousands of miles away to fight for what we believed to be our land.

Fast forward: The rebbetzin I had been learning with told me about a speaker who was coming to town. That speaker was you, Rebbetzin Jungreis. I had been reading your articles for years so I was looking forward to hearing you speak, though of course I had no idea what was in store for me.

That night, you spoke about a loss of Jewish self in our world and what would become our future if we did not take a stand and do something about it. Something deep inside me cried out. Who was I and what impact on the world was I going to make if I didn’t know what being Jewish meant to me? I held back my tears that night, but my mind was racing. I decided I wanted to have a future in which I knew what it meant to be Jewish and why it was so special, but first I had to figure it out for myself.

I decided that summer that I had to go to Israel to learn because that was the place where I was going to find out more about being a Jew.My journey took me to Jerusalem where I enrolled in the Jewel program and where, best of all, your granddaughter, Shaindy Wolff Eisenberg, was my powerful, inspirational teacher. Her teaching reminded me once again of that very night my neshamah was awakened by you.

I realized there was no bending of Torah rules, and after much discussion and the passage of time, my family became united through Torah. Initially this was extremely difficult for my mother, but she is an amazing woman and she did what every mother who loves her children does. She hopped, jumped, and skipped over hurdles for her family, and today, Baruch Hashem, we are all united and keeping Shabbos together.

It’s been three years since I last heard you speak. But your impact on my entire family has been tremendous. Just recently, you came back to our city to speak. My parents attended your lecture and were once again blown away, but this time I asked them to thank you for the immense debt we owe you and will continue to owe you every day of our lives.

My mother came up to you and briefly told you about me and that I had wanted to thank you. I know you meet a lot of people and are so special in the way you wait until everyone gets a turn to speak with you. You grabbed my mother’s hand and she became teary-eyed, and you took a picture with my parents.

In two weeks I will be a madricha on the Jewel program in Jerusalem, and I only hope I can pass on the Torah’s message and awaken other neshamas just as you awakened mine. Thank you.

Addendum: Of course I remember your parents. They made a very deep impression on me, and Shaindy, my granddaughter, says it is a joy to have you on the team. Please convey to your parents my warmest regards and tell them I said “Ashrei y’ladotah — happy is the one who gave life to this person” – and that person is you.

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 “Just One Speech”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

“There is nothing new under the sun” is as valid today as it was yesterday.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/just-one-speech-2/2011/06/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: