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In Hashem’s Hut: 3 true stories of faith and fortitude

Various Authors

It is but A flimsy hut Open to the elements But inside One is embraced By a Father’s love And that makes all the difference

Thursday, September 27, 2012

painting of sukkahsON THE MOVE

As Told To Chana Weiss

My apartment was on top of a hill, with large windows that faced a mountain. The deck, which jetted out over a small forest, was totally private — my little oasis. On a clear day, I could glimpse the Pacific Ocean, lapping up against the shores ofWashington. Sometimes, if I was very still, hummingbirds would fly to the bird feeder, their wings flapping hurriedly, so close I could touch them.

In this apartment, I kashered my first kitchen. I baked my first challah. And for two years, I transformed my living room into a classroom on Wednesday nights, when a kollel rabbi would teach for an hour. We, his students, each had our own story — there was a Holocaust survivor in his 70s, a 20-something baalas teshuvah, several Conservative Jews interested in growth, and me — a 50-year-old woman following the footsteps of her three daughters towards Yiddishkeit. Every Shabbos, I joined a different religious community in the greater area. I stayed at the homes of strangers, some of whom later became dear friends.    

My life had a set routine, the comfort of predictability. I woke up early, worked long hours, and went home to unwind. And then, one day, my boss called me in for a meeting. He gave me 90-days notice. There were budget cuts, company losses — they had to let me go.

I didn’t expect my first reaction to be relief. But I felt lightness. I was sure Hashem was giving me a chance to choose a new direction. As I had grown more observant, I had many times considered moving to a religious community, but I rationalized that I could never leave my beloved apartment. Perhaps now I could make the leap.

But where to move? The nearby Torah communities were warm and welcoming, but none of my three married daughters — who had all become religious after college — nor my single son lived in Washington. I eventually narrowed my options down to three places, all cities where my children (and, more importantly, my grandchildren) lived —Jerusalem,New York, orLos Angeles. I would job-hunt in all three cities and settle wherever I found the first good position.

  

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