| The Change That Lasted |

One Marble at a Time    

“Just one Shabbos,” she told herself, “and this is Shabbos number one”


Growing up in Atlanta, the stories of the community members around me were as much a part of my life as the fact that Coke and CNN were located downtown, just 15 minutes from my home. When friends came to visit, you took them to the Coke factory, showed them the free fountains at the end of the soda museum, and you introduced them to the baalei teshuvah to hear their stories.

I knew Mira came from a background of minimal Judaism and that she’d turned her life around and become fully committed to Torah. But until I made my own feeble attempts to implement change, I never realized that changes like the ones Mira made required commitment and clear steps to morph from inspiration into lasting transformation.

Mira grew up in a barely traditional family. They celebrated Passover and ate gefilte fish, but they also ate nonkosher and didn’t talk much about G-d. She always felt connected to Judaism, but didn’t give it much thought until she got divorced and was advised by a friend to make sure she had a get.

Unsure of what this meant, Mira contacted the Orthodox shul in Atlanta, where she was living at the time. After meeting with Rabbi Emanuel Feldman (who I’m honored to call my grandfather), she received her get and learned more about Judaism.

At first, Mira wasn’t interested in changing her lifestyle in any way. She attended learning programs at the shul and felt more deeply connected to G-d, feeling she was building a real relationship with Him.

She was happy and content, and loved her new friends. But as the depth of her connection grew, she began to feel that she had to make a change. When she looked at the calendar in mid-1999 and saw that the new millennium fell out on Shabbos, Mira decided that she would keep Shabbos the weekend of the new year.

“One piece of salami at a time,” is what her mother always told her, and Mira was determined to bite off no more salami than she could chew. Calling herself “shomer Shabbos” was too intimidating. She wasn’t ready to commit to anything that would be for the rest of her life. She’d keep one Shabbos, and she would think only about that Shabbos.

That was the first New Year’s Eve that she didn’t watch the ball drop on TV or attend a party with friends. Instead, she spent Shabbos with friends from the community and felt an overwhelming peace envelop her.

When Shabbos was over, Mira picked up a marble and placed it in a jar. “Just one Shabbos,” she told herself, “and this is Shabbos number one.”

When the next Shabbos came around, Mira decided she would keep a second Shabbos. “Just one, just this week.” When that Shabbos ended, Mira placed another beautiful marble in the jar to represent another Shabbos observed.

Mira still counts each Shabbos. There have been times she thought she might stop counting with marbles, but her friends advised her to keep going; they wanted to know what number she was up to each week. It’s become an inspiration to those around her.

Today, she proudly displays her marbles next to her Shabbos candles — five jars brimming with 1,129 marbles to date.

Coca-Cola and CNN are still in Atlanta. But for true thrills, visit Mira, and get a view of the shimmering orbs that tell of the power of making the right choice week after week after week.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 758)

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