We are second generation Americans. Our grandfathers came from Kiev and the Ukraine, our grandmothers from Poland. We grew up in mostly Jewish neighborhoods, Devorah in Brooklyn and myself in Philadelphia (until high school when we moved to a gentile suburb). Our families didn’t keep shabbas, though Devorah’s parents kept kosher. I marked time until my bar mitzvah, then stayed away, except for high holidays. I would also give tzdekka to shuls and the federation. Our knowledge of Torah was very limited in shabbas and kashrut; we knew nothing of the oral Torah, lashon hora, tshuva, etc. Rashi wasn’t even in our vocabulary.
In my early fifties, I became observant in Los Angeles–after the passing of my younger brother there–simply by saying kaddish and going to weekly classes on the parsha. My brother’s passing triggered a deep feeling of Jewishness inside me, a sense of belonging going all the way back to Sinai. Devorah has “always spoken to G-d,” however she didn’t begin to appreciate living a traditional Jewish life until she visited her middle child, Tzippora, who had moved to Jerusalem, married an aspiring rabbi, and had two babies. Devorah saw the life her daughter had and wanted it for herself, too. I met Devorah, through a rabbi in Seattle, shortly after her return. I had already turned observant, and she was ready to. We married within five months of our meeting and honeymooned for two months in Jerusalem, after which we moved to La Jolla to join Adat Yeshurun for its rabbi, Jeff Wohlgelernter, the warm and welcoming congregation and, of course, the weather.
The Adat Community has proven to be a wonderful role model for us in many ways, serving as a path to continue our growth in learning and middos (character). Whether making shabbas for people, davening, visiting the ill, attending a simcha or life altering event, we never fail to appreciate the community here or the opportunity to grow as Jews and as individuals in society.
Our lives have fuller meaning and our purpose has become more defined since moving here to join Adat. Obviously, we’ve grown from our learning and being with others outside the community, too. We understand, from our traditional sources, how a Jew is different from others and how he should lead his life, and make an effort to behave in accordance with Torah principles.
Hashem has blessed us with the means to help our family and fellow Jews. With our endowment to Adat, we pray that it will aid others directly and indirectly in getting closer to Hashem and living more rewarding lives.