Assigned to Hollywood community, From Teaneck, NJ
Over the 20 years that Hashem has blessed me with, I have been in many different places—by places I mean spiritually not geographically. I started off life as a non-observant Jew. My father spent a significant portion of his teenage years at an anti-religious kibbutz, while my mother, a Russian immigrant, was not familiar with being religious until her late teenage years. Although this was the case, ever since a young age, I had a natural draw to being an observant Jew, but was unable to make anything of it because of my family’s circumstance. As time went on, I slowly incorporated different Mitzvot into my everyday life. When it came to deciding my high school, I was at a crossroad between Solomon Schechter of Westchester, a conservative program I had just spent 13 years in alongside many friends, versus Torah Academy of Bergen County, an all boys modern-orthodox high school. Even though it was difficult for me to make the switch, I felt like TABC was the right move. In high school, for the most part, I was your classic modern orthodox teenager. Although I did not devote much time to learning and was not strict on keeping Halacha, being religious always had a special place in my heart, sparking my involvement with NCSY. Rabbi Reuven Lebowitz, my chapter director, encouraged me to spend a year in Israel. Although there was a large financial burden, NCSY gave tremendous help, and served as the main reason for why I went to Israel—an experience that saved my life! I live in Teaneck, NJ and am currently a junior at Yeshiva University.