web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



One Woman’s Journey (Part Two)

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Last week I shared a letter from a newly observant Jewish woman. She and her husband reside in a small suburban community outside of Los Angeles. Last year they came to consult with me on a personal religious issue. While they were both ba’alei teshuvah, there was one fine difference between them. He had become a ba’al teshuvah earlier than she and was therefore somewhat more settled in an observant lifestyle.

The husband asked his wife to take the next step and cover her hair, as is traditional among observant married women. She had difficulty even considering the idea, and that was why they came to New York to our Hineni Heritage Center. She explained that such a responsibility was much too much for her to undertake at this time – not only because of vanity, which she admitted was a factor, but also because of her fear that her family, especially her mother, might react harshly to such a decision. Additionally, she and her husband were members of an Orthodox shul where even the rebbetzin did not cover her hair.

They left my office after an extensive discussion, expressing their gratitude for what they learned at my Torah class, though the wife still had doubts about covering her hair. It was a year later that I received the letter that appeared in last week’s column. The woman related how she’d been constantly thinking of our discussion and how every week when she and her husband listened to my live Torah-studies webcast she would be reminded yet again of the need to take the leap and cover her hair.

She finally took that leap in honor of Shabbos and decided to take a walk to her parents’ home in the afternoon. She feared the reaction she would encounter from people she knew in the community where she’d grown up. To her surprise, no one reacted negatively – and while there were some tense moments with her mother, the initial discomfort dissipated. Now she wears her head covering with grace and honor. She twists her beautiful scarf into a turban and feels like a Princess of Jerusalem.

The concept of a ba’al teshuvah as we understand it is rather new in terms of Jewish history. While we’ve always had ba’alei teshuvah, they were mostly Jews who grew up in observant homes and for one reason or another lost their way before returning to a Torah way of life. Today’s ba’al teshuvah movement is something else entirely.

When I established Hineni, there were no full-fledged ba’al teshuvah organizations. American Jews were by and large devoid of Jewishness in any meaningful sense – they had no concept of what it means to be part of Am Yisrael, the Priestly Kingdom that stood at Sinai. Having survived the Holocaust, I knew that I dared not sit by silently and watch my brethren disappear again. Hence I founded Hineni. The response from my fellow Jews ranged from apathy to cynicism. I was viewed as a sentimental dreamer who could not accept reality.

The Orthodox reaction was one of dismissal – I was told my efforts would be a “waste of time.” I was pointedly asked whether I really thought “these people” would ever become Torah observant. Meanwhile, Conservative and Reform Jews feared I was out to brainwash them or their children and make them religious fanatics.

Today, of course, all the doubters have been proved wrong. The ba’al teshuvah movement has become a powerful source of energy and vitality –a beautiful shining star in the Jewish community. It did, however, present us with a new set of problems.

From the genesis of our history, parents were commanded to impart Words of Torah to their sons and daughters. This mandate is repeated again and again throughout the Torah. Suddenly the ba’al teshuvah movement put it all in reverse and children were now called upon to teach their parents. But how can one criticize parents without creating a wall, without offending? The very fact that a child would try to reeducate his parents was viewed by many as unbridled chutzpah – after all, who is a son or a daughter to censor the lifestyle of a mother and a father?

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 “One Woman’s Journey (Part Two)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
rocket in a field near Kibbutz Mefalsim
Heaven on Earth (With Rockets)
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-072514

Just as the moon waxes, wanes and renews itself, so has the nation of Israel renewed itself through the millennia.

126_masei_web

Parshat Masei: Rabbi Fohrman addresses the age-old question, are we our brother’s keeper?

Hertzberg-072514

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

The two words “thank you” have no time expiration; even if spoken after many years they’re as potent as ever.

Let us shake the heavens. Let us not stop until our boys and all our people are liberated from bondage.

Loving-kindness can cure the anger and bitterness in our poisonous world.

The Hebrew word for coincidence is mikreh, which comes from “karah min Hashem – it happened from G-d.”

Saying “thank you” to people to whom we are indebted is humbling – especially if we’ve been raised in a culture of entitlement.

To his very last day he struggled to transcend his pain so that he might impart Torah to all who visited him.

    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/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/one-womans-journey-part-two/2013/05/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: