Inspired and the Art of Denial

Blast from the past. Originally posted 12/29/2005.

Rabbi Yitz Greenman
Aish HaTorah / Discovery

Being involved in the filming of Inspired was truly a zechus for which I’m grateful to Hashem and a most enjoyable process from beginning to end. That being said, there were some sad moments and I would like to share them in the hopes that someone may benefit.

Several people, when asked to share their story, told me that they did not want others to know that they are BT’s. Okay, I may not choose that path myself, but I respect their choice. One old friend, who has led a particularly interesting life that many could have learned from in the film told me that his kids might find out. “Kids might find out?” I asked. “You’re kids don’t know that you’re a BT?” No, he told me. “Well, do you hide your parents and siblings?” No, he said, they’ve all become BT’s themselves. “Fantastic, but why hide who you are from your kids?” He shared that he doesn’t want them to feel “different” or “disadvantaged” in school. Okay, this is his choice and I respect him.

Here’s the rub however. I have met several people at various screenings who bemoaned [in private] the fact that they hid their identity as BT’s, because they felt that they had to in order to integrate into the frum velt. One woman came to me almost in tears after the film. What upset her I asked. She commented that the people in Inspired became frum and entered the Torah community in such a normal way, but she felt that she had to hide everything about who she was and the fact that she was raised secular. A couple came up to me at another screening and shared that they lived in their community for 25 years but no one knew that they were BT’s. It was as if they needed to share with someone: “Hey, we’re different, we’re special, please acknowledge us” but were afraid to let it out of the bag. This situation played itself out quite a few times.

Whereas I am a firm believer in healthy integration into the frum velt and whereas I understand and respect the decision of some BT’s for not wanting to share the fact that they are BT’s, I believe that people should be aware that this often times comes at a cost. The cost may be their own self image and damaged identity.

These people that I met appeared broken in some real way. Being born into a non frum family is not a sin and nothing to be ashamed of. Secular Jews are tinokes she’nishbau [kidnapped children] in a foreign culture. Our goal must be to reach them, educate them and integrate them into the Torah world, but not by telling them that their prior accomplishments were valueless and that their life had no meaning.

(For information on the film Inspired, visit

Santa and the Little Jewish Girl

By Marsha Smagley
Twas the night before Xmas, (or maybe a week before),
When all through the house, (that is. my best friend’s house),
Not a child was stirring, not even a mouse… (Except for the little Jewish girl, that would be me)
In hopes that.. (Santa) soon would be there! (That is until the little Jewish girl chased him away!).

The Episode
When I was four years old, I told Kathy, my best friend who was Catholic, and her three siblings, that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. The little Jewish girl (that would be me) thought she was supposed to tell the truth. Although I do not remember many things from when I was four years old, unfortunately, I vividly remember that one.

It took place in a modest apartment in Chicago in the early 1960’s. The little Jewish girl of fair complexion, with very short thick strawberry blonde hair, stood in front of her best friend and her three siblings, all contently nestled on the couch in their apartment, and innocently, did the unthinkable…
Read more Santa and the Little Jewish Girl

Do As I Do

By “Devorah”

As the child of BT parents who got a strong dose of ‘flaming BT-itis’ when I was a teenager; and the wife of a BT, I’ve had the good fortune, if you can say that, of experiencing Baal Teshuva parenting from both sides.

That doesn’t mean I have a 100% fool proof knowledge of what ‘works’, when trying to bring up religiously-inspired, emunah-filled kids. But I certainly have a fair idea of what doesn’t.

When my parents first got frum, I was 15. We were doing Xmas; we were eating in McDonalds; we were starving on Yom Kippur (without any real idea of why) and avoiding bread on Pesach (again, without any real idea of why) but that was it. It was the worst kind of exposure to yiddishkeit: periodic occasions when we asked to do difficult things with no explanation or context as to why we should, or why it was important.

No Jewish community, or Jewish friends, to speak of. But a lingering sense that we were fundamentally ‘different’ to everyone else, which for a teenager, is probably one of the worst sensations.

It’s a long story which I won’t go into here, but when my parents embraced Judaism, they did it at 5000 mph. All of a sudden, Mcdonalds was out. All of a sudden, we had separate plates, and couldn’t have icecream after our chicken supper. All of a sudden, Saturday became a big long list of ‘thou shalt nots’ – once again, with minimal explanation as to why.
Read more Do As I Do

Should We Mainstream Baalei Teshuva and Their Support?

Many people have complained that there is not enough post-Teshuva support among Kiruv organizations. In fact, that was one of the driving forces of Beyond BT. Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky recently wrote:

My formula is that for every dollar devoted to getting someone interested in Torah, ten dollars should be devoted to nurturing and developing that interest, educating and supporting the individual towards the goal of becoming a well-adjusted, knowledgeable Torah Jew.

Some people feel that the task of BT support is more appropriate in the communities, particularly the Shuls. Obviously every Shul is not suited for BT support, but with Shuls with BT members there is a wealth of knowledge and support available within the context of the mainstream community.

In general, do you think we should encourage BTs to join and daven at mainstream Shuls as soon as practical, or do you think they should stay in primarily BT environments?

Do you think Shuls are suitable places for supporting BTs or do you think we should try to raise more money for Kiruv organizations for that task?

Finding Hashem in the Darkness

A Jewish king’s task is to personify G-d’s majesty in this world. I would like to suggest that through the rulership of Yosef and Moshe, Hashem’s glory was manifested on two different levels.

Yosef was the embodiment of the divine characteristic of revelation. Like a king, Yosef displayed royalty. He wore the brilliant kasones pasim (multi-colored garment). He was beautiful and beautified himself. Paroah gave Yosef the name Tzafnas Pa’nayach – literally, the hidden, revealed through the face.

Moshe, on the other hand was hidden. He was the most modest of all men. He covered his face with a veil to conceal his light. The germara relates that Moshe wore simple white garments as he served as Kohen Gadol (high priest) during the seven inaugural days of the Mishkan. This was unlike the usual regal vestments worn by the Kohen Gadol (Taanis 11b).

Where is there a greater manifestation of G-dliness, when Hashem is revealed or concealed? Was Hashem’s glory perceived at a greater level through Yosef’s revelation or Moshe’s concealment? At face value, one would think there is more G-dliness invested in a revelation. Perhaps the opposite is true.

Like the physically dark winter months, the calendar reflects a time of spiritual darkness as well. The germara describes 3 days of darkness, which culminated in the fast day of the tenth of Teves, of last week. On that day, the siege of Yerushalayim commenced. It eventually led to the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash (holy temple) and the exile.

The germara (Yoma 69b) explains that the Men of the Great Assembly merited the title “Great” because they restored G-d’s glory to its original greatness. Originally, Hashem is praised with the words “the great, mighty and awesome”. Decades later, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Bais Hamikdash. Yermiya reasoned, “Where is Hashem’s awesomeness” in the midst of such concealment and destruction? He deleted “awesome” from the original praise. Similarly, Daniel witnessed the oppression of the Jews in exile and proclaimed, “Where is G-d’s might?” He deleted “mighty” as well. However, the men of the Great Assembly perceived reality from a different perspective. G-d does not conceal his “might” when the Jewish people are persecuted, He reveals it, by controlling His wrath and waiting until the right moment to execute vengeance. In addition, G-d displays His “awesomeness” through the exile of the Jewish people. How else could the survival of a helpless nation surrounded by hostile nations be explained? Therefore, they reinstituted the original praises of “mighty and awesome”. The Men of the Great Assembly understood on a deeper level, that through the darkness of exile G-dliness is not hidden but revealed.

Chasidus offers an analogy. Where is essence found? The essence of any one thing is the very core of its existence. Essence is the microcosm that encompasses an entire reality. To illustrate, one sees a beautiful, large, fruit tree in full bloom. Thousands of colorful blossoms encompass the foliage. The sight is breathtaking. Where is this tree’s essence? We are in search of the one thing that incorporates all its immense beauty, its size and its fruit. The answer is … the seed. In the seed is everything, that tree was, is and will be.

Logically, one would conjecture that this seed which holds all the tremendous beauty within it, would in and of itself be exquisitely beautiful. However, this is not the reality. The profound lesson is that the seed appears to be no more than a small meaningless pebble. The same is true in man. Chasidus explains, true essence can never be revealed. It can only be experienced. It is only through the concealment of a seed that essence is engaged.

Like the disguise of a seed, G-dliness is found in essence in a similar fashion. G-d is found amidst concealment. The nature of this physical world is that it conceals Hashem. The root of the word olam (world) is helem (conceal). The physical world hides Hashem like no other. Therefore, it is explained that G-d’s essence is experienced here as well.

This is the secret of a mitzvah. The root of the word mitzvah is tzausa – to join (to Hashem). It is not by coincidence that most mitzvas are accomplished through the performance of a physical (apparently mundane) action in this dark world. It is through the medium of physicality that Hashem is found and can be connected to in essence. Similarly, the root of the word Shabbos is shev (to return). On Shabbos through the physical pleasure of consuming a scrumptious meal in purity, we return and experience a union with Hashem. This is the envy of the heavenly hosts. Angels can enjoy G-dliness but they can never experience a relationship to Hashem in essence as we can in this world.

There is a telling story of the Vilna Gaon. On his deathbed, the Gaon began to cry. His students pondered, “You have spent a lifetime preparing for the next world. Now that you are about to enter it, you cry?” The Vilna Gaon pointed to his tzitzis and said, “This garment I bought for so little money. By wearing it each day I was able to fulfill such precious mitzvos. In the next world, even such a simple act will be impossible.”

With this it can be understood why the climax of history will culminate in this apparent mundane world, through the coming of Moshiach. The question must be asked, is the absolute reward of man not the ecstatic pleasure a neshama (soul) experiences in the next world? As we explained, the ultimate connection with Hashem is in this world, therefore the neshamos of the departed will experience the revival of the dead in a physical form on earth. It is here, through the material reality of this world that Hashem will be experienced on the most supreme and intense level.

Moshiach Ben Dovid is Moshe Rabbeinu “Moshe is the first redeemer and the last redeemer,” (Midrash, Zohar Bereishis 25b, 27a). In the end of days Hashem’s majesty will be revealed on two different levels through Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben Dovid. Moshiach Ben Yosef will initiate the process, however Moshiach Ben Dovid / Moshe, will manifest the glory of Hashem in its ultimate level in this world in the end of days.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge of life, is utilizing the darkness as an opportunity to connect to Hashem. The lesson of Moshe is; Concealment and darkness are not a lack of G-dliness, they are precisely where Hashem can be experienced in essence.

“In the place a baal teshuva stands a perfect tzadik is unable to stand.” Finding Hashem in the light is relatively easy. Finding Hashem in the darkness is the true greatness and unique power of a baal teshuva.

Originally Posted Dec 28, 2007

The Danger Of Lowering Our Expectations

In a recently letter to the editor of Jewish Action, Dr. Bernard H. White of Dallas, Texas, responded to an editorial by Dr. Simcha Katz, in which the OU president recounted the story of a young man who, although the product of a prominent Jewish day school and high school system, confessed to feeling “ignorant of Judaism” even after a year in Israel. Dr. White observed:

It is likely that Sam’s parents spent about a quarter-million dollars on his Jewish education, only to end up with an “ignorant” product. What a devastating indictment of the education we are providing to the next generation.

Unfortunately, Jewish schools and educators have not been immune to the lunacy sweeping the educational enterprise—suppression of competition, safeguarding students’ feelings at all costs, promoting self-esteem over academic achievement and dumbing down coursework to the level of the least-capable student. What has been lost is the insistence on excellence, an aggressive curriculum of core subjects (both Jewish and secular) and devotion to hard work.

The truth is that this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it goes back to nearly 2,800 years ago and, in a very real sense, it lies at the heart of all the problems that have plagued the Jewish people ever since.

The Jewish nation reached its halcyon days early in the reign of Shlomo HaMelech. The kingdom was secure from its enemies, its monarchy firmly established, its sphere of influence extending as far as Babylon, its Temple the single greatest wonder of the world. The people lived according to the dictates and values of the Torah, their spiritual integrity rewarded by Hashem’s blessing for material wealth. The opportunity to usher in the messianic era seemed palpably within their grasp.

But that potential was never realized. The introduction of idolatry by Shlomo’s foreign wives eroded the nation’s merit and caused the kingdom to be split in two. And although the separate kingdoms might have both prospered, the corrosive paranoia of King Yerovom of Yisroel propelled his people into a downward spiral culminating in the dissolution of his own kingdom and the moral corruption of neighboring Yehudah.

Despite Hashem’s promise of a dynasty like that of King David, Yerovom feared that when the Jews of Yisroel returned to Jerusalem to observe the festival of Sukkos, their joy at being reunited as one people would inspire them to reject Yerovom and pledge their loyalty to the House of David. Rather than risk losing his kingdom, Yerovom placed border guards along the roads to Jerusalem, erected a pair of golden calves for his people to worship, and proclaimed the words at still echo across the ages:

“Rav lochem – It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem! Behold your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

In a single phrase, Yerovom created within Jewish society a culture of mediocrity. After the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, the victories over Amoleik and Midian and Sichon and Og, after forty years of mann and the miracles in the desert, after nearly five centuries combating enemy nations given free reign over the Jews because they failed to live up to the standards Hashem and the Torah had clearly laid out for them – after all that, Yerovom blithely declared that Hashem would readily accept Yisroel’s service to idolatrous intermediaries in order to spare his people a few extra miles of travel up to the place where their father Avrohom had been prepared to offer his only son in the supreme act of spiritual self-sacrifice.

And the people eagerly accepted his dispensation.

For our part, we refuse to learn the lessons of the past. If only we expected less of our children, the current thinking goes, then they would love their Judaism. So we lobby for shorter school days, easier grading, less homework, accelerated and abbreviated davening – and we look the other way when they pull out their phones to text on Shabbos.

Then we see that it isn’t working, so we just keep expecting less and less. What will we say when there’s nothing less for us to expect?

Rabbi Goldson writes at
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Have You Won the Chanukah War? How Have Your Prevented Integration from Becoming Assimilation?

As BTs, many of us pride ourselves on how well we have integrated the Chol (secular) and the Kodesh (holy) in our lives. Given that Chanukah was our fight against assimilation, it might make sense to examine our integration and assimilation.

Where does integration end and assimilation begin? How do you draw the line?

How do you prioritize Torah knowledge over secular knowledge?

When do you Google for advice and when do you ask a Rav?

Are you more likely to spend time reading the online news or study Gemara, Halacha, Mishana or Nach?

How much of Western Society is still an essential part of you?

R’ Moshe Schwerd – Chanukah: Shielding Our Children from Assimilation

…the strong relationship between Chanukah and Succos.
…the different nature of Persumei Nissa (publicizing the miracle) on Chanukah
…what the Greeks were claiming back then
…what the non-Jewish nations want from us today
…where we are failing in the battle against assimilation and how we can succeed
…and more

Download the mp3 – R’ Moshe Schwerd – Shielding Our Children from Assimilation (right click and save target as).

And from a few years back: how the present-giving orientation of the holiday threatens to usurp its purpose. Recapture the essence of the holiday.

Download the mp3 – R’ Moshe Schwerd – Chanukah and American Materialism (right click and save target as).

Chanukah – Beyond the Facade

By Yered Viders

Our homes are illuminated with the timeless Chanukah lights and the timeless message they convey. Looking at the lights, I wondered why the B’nei Binah (“Men of Insight”) — whom we acclaim in Ma’oz Tz’ur for establishing the Festival of Chanukah — selected such a mundane way of commemorating the historic miracle. Light a candle. That’s it?

Imagine Jewish leadership instituted a Festival to commemorate the recent miracles associated with the Gaza attacks. What would be a fitting, meaningful tribute? What commemorative event could really drive home the message of emunah, bitachon and Hashem’s secure watch over His People and His Land? A parade? A military re-enactment? No, I got it. Let’s turn on our living room lights at sunset and leave them on for 30 minutes!

Truth be told, while we associate candles with “special events,” in days of antiquity, candles were just a means of illumination. They were the modern-day equivalent of the 60 watt bulb that enabled our forefathers centuries ago to remain productive after the sun had set. Of all the ways of commemorating the miracles of Chanukah -– what’s so significant about the seemingly insignificant candle?

Lest the rarefied days of Chanukah be lost in a torrent of doughnuts and latkes, it behooves us to consider this point.

The answer, I believe, is to train our powers of perception to register what lies beneath the service. The symbolism. The depth. The “more than meets the eye.” As oppose to the “what you see is what you get” philosophy of the Greek regime. Yavan thinking was staunchly averse to attributing anything spiritual to nature, history or the human condition. Face value. One dimension. Reality begins and ends with what’s tangible.

To uproot this sinister mindset, our forefathers — true B’nei Binah — crafted the perfect “ritual” to highlight the centrality of what lies beneath the surface. If you want — it’s just a candle. It’s just a mundane, functional way of illuminating the home. On the other hand, if you choose, it’s so much more than just a candle. It’s a “symbol,” and if you double-click on that symbol you can tap into deep spiritual reservoirs brimming with timeless lessons of emunah, bitachon, mesiras nefesh and the Jewish People’s unique capacity to live above nature and history. Behind that flickering light you can discover all the fundamentals of faith that have sustained us throughout the centuries.

For better or for worse, we live in a non-thinking generation. Many scholars have noted that the attractive “-isms” of generations past have imploded upon themselves, leaving only a few misguided souls truly championing a particular philosophical outset. What, then, has filled the void and competes with our capacity to think deeply into matters? The media, for one. We are bombarded with advertisements and “tidbits” of information on seemingly every nook and cranny of our environment. Our human interactions are quite often at a shockingly shallow level as we jot off the next text while waiting at a light. We are a headline-society without, seemingly, the time, patience or interest for plumbing the depths. Are we under military attack? No, thankfully not; but our precious minds that have the capacity to seek emes and our Yiddishe eyes that have inherited the capacity to identify Hashem behind the opaque crust of nature and history are threatened everyday with the allure of the superficial view.

To spur us on in this fight for depth, we have a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Sages who instituted Chanukah –- not just that they saw fit to give us the enlightened days to endure the winter (and the long winter of galus) but the manner in which the B’nei Binah established the celebration: encouraging and inspiring us to retain our behind-the-scenes perception in a world where façade masquerades as the coin of the realm. Let us live up to the challenge of the Chanukah lights and may we merit to see depth in ourselves, in one another and our world at large.

Healthy Kiruv…Respecting Those Whom We Bring Closer to Judaism

By Zev Gotkin

(Response to “Dishonest Kiruv! The Building of Responsible Jewish Outreach Movements” by Rabbi ShmulyYanklowitz)

Many in the Torah-observant world would likely consider me an “outreach success story.” Coming from a secular background I had little knowledge of Jewish teachings or observance when I entered my first year of college. However, I was open to spirituality and thirsting for truth. Naturally, I found myself relishing the Torah classes provided by the outreach rabbis working on my campus.

In his article, “Dishonest Kiruv! The Building of Responsible Jewish Outreach Movements,” Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, an orthodox rabbi and Jewish outreach professional, criticizes some of the methods and actions of his peers in Jewish outreach. I believe Jewish outreach is probably one of the holiest and most needed pursuits in which one can engage. Although I am pained to admit some of the negative things he discusses do occasionally take place, I am happy he got some of these issues out into the open. As someone who has truly benefited from the tireless work of Jewish outreach professionals, I wish to present what I believe are some criticisms as well as challenges that I believe should be addressed in the world of Jewish outreach.

I am reminded of a teaching in the Ethics of the Fathers that one should emulate Aaaron of the Bible by “bringing [others] close to the Torah.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe highlights that the verse implores one to bring people close to the Torah rather than bring the Torah close to the people. When one presents the Torah observant way of life to fellow Jews, one need not fear that others won’t be interested if shown the authentic version. A person involved in Jewish outreach must not resort to cheap gimmicks or dishonest tactics to water down the Torah in attempt to make it “easier” for their students.

In the spirit of the mitzvah of judging others favorably, let’s take into account the challenges facing those in Jewish outreach before we criticize what some may or may not be doing right. The passionate and sincere outreach professional is charged with presenting Judaism in its purest and most unadulterated form while at the same time making it relevant and appealing to the average non-observant Jew. Those who work with the demographic of college students know that with an intermarriage rate among American Jewry of 47% time is of the essence. After taking the above into consideration, we must acknowledge that those who work in orthodox Jewish outreach are human beings. Some may occasionally fall into the trap of sugar-coating the demanding nature of Jewish commitmentor downplaying the challenges of being a Torah-observant Jew in the modern world. I assume most of this is not done willfully, but rather is motivated by a sincere desire to cultivate interest among students in their heritage. This problem is understandable, but not justifiable.

Interestingly, Rabbi Yanklowitz does not consider himself an ordinary Jewish outreach professional. He is a self-proclaimed “social justice rav” and states that “The best outreach involves…giving to others, social justice work, and inviting others to have an impact on the world.” He adds that all this should be “infused with Jewish learning and conversations.” Social justice, or “tikkun olam,” and community service are all beautiful activities and a part of being a Torah Jew. However, an orthodox educator must be ever-wary of falling into the same trap which the Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist movements fell into of placing an inordinate amount of time on social justice at the expense of textual study and ritual observance. Social justice activities are good, but they are not activities on which Jews have a monopoly. College campuses and communities abound with secular social justice and community service opportunities in which young Jews can get involved. Acts of chesed (kindness) are not enough to maintain the distinctness and separateness of being Jewish. While some may bemoan the lack of emphasis on social justice within most orthodox Jewish outreach, social justice is not a uniquely Jewish pursuit. However, lighting Shabbat candles, wrapping tefillin (phylacteries), keeping kosher etc. are what keep make being Jewish unique and what keeps us a distinct and “holy people.”

Finally, I will raise a few of my own concerns.

1) Don’t push too hard. In their sincere excitement and tremendous caring about the welfare of their fellow Jews, outreach professionals can occasionally push their students too hard and too fast. Mitzvot have to be taken on slowly and carefully. Jewish ideas and concepts take time to be fully integrated into one’s personality. A person who bites off more than they can chew will inevitably choke and cough up everything that was stuffed into their spiritually hungry mouth. Sometimes it is the baalei teshuva themselves who move too quickly or who grow in an unhealthy direction, but nonetheless it is the responsibility of the outreach worker to help guide them and make sure their growth is grounded. This leads me to my second point.

2) Follow-up. It is crucial that a person involved in outreach follow up with their charges to see how they are growing and developing. I have heard many a complaint from a newly religious Jew that once they became observant their former teacher lost interest in them and moved onto the next “victim.” This is wrong. Outreach is about is working with human beings. The job of someone in Jewish outreach is not to churn out cookie-cutter “frummies” like an assembly line, but to respect the individuality and experiences of their students. In a recent article titled ‘When Judaism becomes a Drug’ blogger, Pop Chassid criticizes those Jewish outreach workers who make Judaism seem like a high-inducing drug by “implying that a person cannot be happy or healthy unless they are religious.” In my experience, not all who leave Orthodox Judaism are unhappy. On the contrary many become happier. Yes, as Orthodox Jews we may believe some of their “happiness” is stemming from the opposite of holiness and truth, but using propaganda and scare tactics is not an effective way to reach out to our fellow Jews. It is also important to recognize that while most people who become observant are on a quest to pursue a life of truth and meaning, some may be taking on an orthodox lifestyle in order to get a superficial high or escape painful realities in their own lives. We must be wary of this and make sure those whom we bring close to Torah adjust to their new lifestyle in a healthy manner. Otherwise the outreach worker is guilty of being an enabler. Jewish outreach is not about “making people frum.” It is about returning Torah and mitzvot to their rightful heirs in a spiritually and psychologically healthy way devoid of tricks or sales pitches. A person cannot be “sold” on Torah Judaism. One will only remain connected if one’s desire to connect is allowed to come from within.

3) Respect the background of your student. Finally, I would like to address Rabbi Yanklowitz’s point that some returnees to traditional Judaism are encouraged to resent or hate their previous life. Some baalei teshuva unfortunately disassociate from family or friends, feel excessive shame and guilt over past decisions, give up on positive hobbies or pursuits, or are dismissive of the skills or knowledge they acquired in the secular world. This is often the result of irresponsible outreach. Dishonest kiruv makes people think there was nothing of value in their “past life.” On the contrary, the Chassidic master, the Baal Shem Tov, taught that everything that happens to us in life is the product of Divine Providence. Where we were born and everything we have experienced is purposeful and part of the Divine plan. A Jew who was born “far” away from Torah and mitzvot was not placed where he/she was by accident. Every person is given a unique mission in life to uplift and reveal the holy sparks hidden within their life’s experiences and interactions. Those of us who adopted a more observant lifestyle must be a Kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of G-d’s name), by being a blessing to our families and all whom we meet. True Jewish outreach enables individuals to take whatever skills, talents, and experiences they acquired while not observant and elevate them and transform them into something that reveals G-dliness in the world.