I am a very lucky person. Not because my baby sleeps a full night and my kids eat their vegetables without a fuss (though that certainly helps), but because I work in an environment with people who are striving to be better Jews.

When I first started working in the yeshivah for baalei teshuvah where I’m employed, I was asked to get something from a student by the name of Sam. I went in search of him and finally found him in the dining room. He’d finished his lunch and was shuckling fervently over a bentsher. I peeped over his shoulder and saw that he was up to “Racheim.”

Okay, how long would it take to reach the end? Two minutes? No problem. I could wait two minutes; it would save me time locating him later.

Five minutes later, I was still waiting.

Word by careful word, Sam bentshed, correcting himself if he mispronounced a word. As I watched Sam, I found myself wondering, Why can’t my bentshing look like that? Why is my bentshing a two-minute interlude while my thoughts stray to the table that needs to be cleared and the dishes that need to be washed?

That afternoon, as I bentshed, I thought of Sam and actually looked at the words on the page.

These stories happen every day, and if I wrote them all down, the magazine would become a book. But I can’t stop myself from sharing the story of Jake.

Jake is an 18-year-old American student from a very comfortable home. He applied to yeshivah and was accepted. His father, an Israeli himself, wanted his son to know about his Jewish heritage and agreed that Jake could take a year to study in Israel. A few weeks before Jake’s arrival, his father got cold feet. “There’s no way in the world that I’ll spend my good, hard-earned money to send you to a place where you might become a fanatic!” he cried.

Jake didn’t give up.

He sent me the following e-mail.


As you know I will hopefully be joining your yeshivah for the upcoming year. However, due to certain issues, my dad just told me he won’t be paying my tuition. I have some money saved up, which I was planning to use as spending money in Israel, but will instead go toward my tuition. This money won’t be enough to cover it all, so I would like to take a night job as a waiter. The reason I’m writing to you is to request permission to stay out late at nights and not be in the dorm by curfew. Please understand the situation and allow this.

Thanks a lot,


(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 614)