My parents and I immigrated to the United States from the former USSR. We were raised as atheists but I did receive some training in Judaism by attending the local Jewish community center, and a Jewish summer camp. These really didn’t do too much for me. I knew that I was Jewish, but I didn’t know what that meant.
At age eighteen, while attending college, I started asking myself questions like, “What makes me a Jew? Is it that I was born to Jewish parents? Do I need to live a Jewish life?” I decided to learn more about my heritage.
However, it wasn’t easy for me. I went to school in California where “Born-Again” Christians and “Messianic-Jews” were always trying to convert me. They befriended me and I started going to church with them. I even went to their meetings on campus. The Messianic Jews told me that I can be Jewish and Christian at the same time. I also went to their “Messianic Synagogue” and liked it. But I still had many unanswered questions.
When I first started looking into Christianity, a Reform rabbi came to speak on campus. I told her about my situation and she handed me a business card and wrote the name of another rabbi on the back. She suggested that I speak with him. I put the card away and didn’t make the call. A year later I found the card. This time I called Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz of Jews for Judaism.
My “Messianic-Jewish” friends tried to dissuade me from talking with him. I invited them to meet Rabbi Kravitz with me. When they declined, it really made me question their friendship and motives.
I went ahead and had numerous phone conversations with Rabbi Kravitz. We corresponded via the Internet and he spent a day with me at my college campus. He also gave me two tapes that helped me very much. I finally was able to abandon my contact with these “Born-Again” Christians.
I had always wanted to be Jewish, I just never knew how. Now, I am exploring my Judaism and next year I will be attending Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Imagine “Next Year In Jerusalem”, my prayers have been answered.