Growing up in a home of Bal Teshuva; although not preferred, my life choices were respected.
Often there were times someone from my large family of nine children would comment on what I should be doing. I respected there belief, but not enough to persuade me to share the same lifestyle. It wasn’t until I got to Israel that I noticed how much I had forgotten; maybe even just ignored, my own religion. Realization struck me that my brothers praying three times a day, or that their closets never strayed of a white button down shirt and black pants, did not constitute me to identify as religious; I was only Jewish.
The constant questioning of why my family would voluntarily live a Torah lifestyle finally had an answer. Infatuated I began to spend as much time of my day learning about the Jewish nations creation, beliefs, morals, and faith. Not long into my school year I started to become someone I wouldn’t be caught talking to back home. My friends would constantly tell me I was being brainwashed, but i finally had morals and values for myself. The minute I developed an understanding of what it really meant to believe in G-d I felt happier than i thought possible. My year of self discovery showed me who I was, and why I would do the things I did. With the ability to work on myself for the first time, awareness of my positive and negative character traits showed me the constant improvements made in my life.
Discovering many of my actions were in result of me being an extremist didn’t stop me from choosing to take on as much as possible. Teachers and peers voiced how important it was not to take on a drastic amount of change, but I didn’t listen. Three months into the year and at first glance I looked like the daughter of a Rabbi. Sitting in class one morning I began to question myself. Usually the concepts being taught deeply impacted me, but that day it seemed to be brainwash.
I didn’t know if I believed in anything or enjoyed the fluffy ideas, and how proud my family was of me. Did I really want to give up my fun life of partying for rules I didn’t know meant anything? As the teacher read to us a sentence from our books on faith I concluded that I did not believe in G-d. All of a sudden my mind started racing with emotions I could not process. I ran out of class with no destination in mind. I kept telling myself not to cry until no one could see me anymore.
In my mission of quickly making it to privacy I was stopped by a girl. Before that day the amount of conversations we had could be counted on one hand. She smiled at me and began to tell me how I inspired her. She complimented me on the way I took on dressing modestly, but still kept my own style. Even quoting a comment I made in class that helped with her own personally journey. When I walked away I started to cry. That was the moment I saw G-d.