A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.
This is not my story at all. But when I heard it from Avigayil Madmoni, formerly Gin Lin Lug, a Chinese convert, I gained a new view of what Torah means to me. I know for sure, as anyone who has ever met this very charming, sincere, lovable young woman will agree with me, that Avigayil is my sister like any other Jew and that she surely stood at Har Sinai — together with my ancestors and the souls of their descendants, namely me and all the Jews alive today, and who have ever lived, since the giving of the Torah.
Having heard Avigayil’s story and internalizing its message, I know that Torah is everything. It is the past, present and future. It is the air we breathe, and the messages we receive all the time telling us that it is Truth, and the closer we cling to it, the more alive we are and the better person we can strive to become – and actually become, with the help of Hashem!
Our high school in Ofakim brought Avigayil to speak to us. A convert of six years (and incidentally, one of the dayanim who signed on her conversion is the husband of our principal), Avigayil speaks a fluent Hebrew with a slight accent. These are her words [translated from Hebrew]:
I have been a student at Seminary Neveh Yerushalayim for the past five years, since shortly after I converted. I have realized a few of my lifetime dreams – that of joining your people and also of earning my degree here as a certified nurse.
My third dream is to get married and raise a family of fine Jewish children, and that, like everything else, is in the hands of G-d, as I have clearly seen every step of the way. Who knows? Maybe just like the Chinese girl from the book, Bamboo Cradle, found her mate, I, too, will merit to get married and raise a family.
My story begins in China, of course, in the home of simple but honest and hard working peasants who taught me good values. I always felt that there was something more, something beyond just living a decent life. I thought that training to be a nurse would provide fulfillment, but my parents couldn’t afford to send me to nursing school.
Divine Providence found me a job in Israel as a caregiver to ten-year-old Elad Madmoni z”l, terminally ill with muscular dystrophy. He was confined to a wheelchair, but his mind was alert and his soul was pure and beautiful.
Elad attended school and spent recess in his wheelchair, watching his friends running around and playing ball. He was fully aware of his situation but never complained. In fact, he radiated peace and joy to everyone around him.
Elad’s family was religious, and I would watch him pray with fervor and study Gemara and Mishnayos. His good spirits always amazed me and I used to ask him, “How can you pray to G-d? Aren’t you angry that He made you this way and that there is no cure for you?” And he would answer so sweetly, “Lin, whatever the Creator does is for the best, even for me. Who knows, maybe He made me this way so that you could come and learn more about Him?”
Now I know that Elad was right, but how could he have known?
We had long philosophical talks, perhaps on a simple level, but I was always amazed how he knew the answers to my questions. “China is an ancient country with an ancient tradition,” I told him once, “but all Chinese people know that the Jews are the most learned and clever nation in the world. That’s what my grandfather told me, too. So tell me, what is written in your Torah?”
And he would patiently explain ideas that you’ve been familiar with since you were small children. I became interested in Judaism and at the age of 21, opened the Bible for the first time in my life and was actually able to read it in Hebrew. I had loved this language from the very first day I came; the very letters seemed holy to me and I used to copy them. When Elad saw my interest, he began teaching me to read and write and speak. He taught me Jewish history and told me stories about the Sages. Thanks to him, I was able to see that everything in this world has a purpose; nothing happens just like that. Then, right before Shavuos, he told me the story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, and all the chessed that each did.
That Shavuos eve I was unable to fall asleep. I suddenly felt as if my eyes had been opened. There was a living G-d and His word was the living Torah. Yes, I felt it in my bones, in my heart. Everything was so clear, all of a sudden, and I was determined to convert to Judaism, just like Ruth the Moabite.
It was a long process. The Beis Din rejected me four times but each time it only strengthened my determination. Then, finally, they approved my request. My joy would have been complete if only Elad had been alive, but I knew that he had believed in me. Truly, it was thanks to him that I began the process and that I persevered.
Before he died, Elad asked his parents to accompany me to the chupah.
When Avigayil told us her story, she was still single, and skeptical that anyone would want to marry her. A few months later, I went to visit my grandmother, who has a fund for needy brides, including converts. She told me about a very sweet kallah who had come to her that week, a Chinese giyoress, engaged to a Romanian ger tzeddek. She showed me the short autobiography Avigayil had written. Now I knew immediately that Avigayil’s third wish had finally come true.
So what does Torah mean to me, a girl from a religious family? I realize that it spans continents, spans centuries of time and encompasses everything under the sun. It means that I must embrace this truth, like Avigayil, and dedicate myself to finding my own particular mission in life.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.
We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.
Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.
Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Dear Dr. Yael:
My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.
The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.
She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.
Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!
Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.
While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.
I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.
Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.
This massive Russian-Egyptian arms deal is a slap in the face for President Obama and his failed foreign policy.
No, not Mahna Mahna. Mimouna. Mimouna is a Moroccan celebration of Chametz that takes place right after Pesach ends (which it did tonight). It’s become very popular in Israel, especially among political leaders, as participating in a Mimouna makes you more part of the “Amcha” (the every-day folk). It’s estimated (according to Wikipedia, at least) […]
Chimpanzees and Orangutans eat Matza, unleavened bread traditionally eaten during the Passover holiday, at the Ramat Gan Safari on Thursday, April 17, 2014. I hope they can digest it. On Passover no leavened bread (Chametz) is allowed in Jewish possession, and that includes food we feed our animals.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/from-sin-china-to-sinai/2012/05/18/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: