| Teen Diary Serial |

Sara’s Story: Chapter 15

My family members were safe, baruch Hashem, but our home had been completely destroyed



the end, I remained in my nonreligious school until the end of high school. I wanted to become a teacher after that, but my brothers told me that the teaching salary wouldn’t be high enough and that I needed a “real job.”

My brothers had toiled and sweated for years to put food on our table. I couldn’t disregard their opinion. And so, with my heart hardly in it, I took a secretarial course and began working in the field.

One day, there was a huge fire on my block. I found out while at work. A coworker instructed me to go home.

My heart raced as I turned onto my street. Huge black clouds were billowing all around and I nearly stopped breathing when I felt my older brother, Yosef, take my hand.

“Everyone’s okay,” Yosef murmured. “Shocked, but okay.”

My family members were safe, baruch Hashem, but our home had been completely destroyed. The government branch that assigned refugees their apartments quickly gave us a new apartment.

The apartment was nice enough, but the kitchen needed to be kashered. I asked Rabbi Futerfas to come by. He came the next day with a tall and dark-skinned bochur from Iran.

The bochur was in England for outreach and he and Rabbi Futerfas told me about a day camp in L.A. that was hiring counselors from Iran. “They’re willing to pay their counselors’ airfare from New York. If you pay for your ticket from London to New York, then you may have a deal. Interested?”

Boy, was I interested. I quickly set the wheels of the plan into motion and in June of 1987, I found myself flying toward the East Coast of the United States. Day camp in LA was hardly the adventurous experience that I’d anticipated, involving a lot of physical work with young children instead, but it was definitely a learning experience.

Three-and-a-half weeks after arriving in L.A., I headed back to the West, this time to New York.

My favorite cousin Miriam lived in Monsey, New York, and the plan was for me to stay with her family for several weeks before returning to England.

Our reunion was exhilarating.

“Do you remember when we used to stretch our arms out wide and say, ‘I love you as much as this’?” Miriam asked me on our first night together. “Well, now I’m telling you that I love you even more and have missed you all these years.”

It had been so long since we’d last seen each other, but time seemed to melt away as we brought each other up to date on our life stories. Miriam had recently married a frum young man by the name of Feivish Adams, and she wanted to know where I was holding in life.

“You look like you’re becoming a Lubavitcher,” she said. “And Monsey is only an hour from Crown Heights where the Lubavitcher Rebbe lives. If there’s a farbrengen while you’re here, would you be interested in going?”

Sure I was interested in going, and Miriam happily ironed out the details for me.

Several nights later, the phone at my aunt and uncle’s home rang. It was a Lubavitcher woman from Monsey who was driving into Crown Heights for a farbrengen. “We can pick you up in ten minutes if you’re interested and can get ready quickly,” the woman said.

I was ready in five minutes.

An hour and 25 minutes later we drove up to 770 Eastern Parkway, famed Lubavitch Headquarters.

My heart pounded wildly as I entered the women’s section. The Rebbe’s voice reverberated gently, but powerfully, across the room.

“That girl is from Iran. It’s her first time here,” someone whispered. “Let her go to the front to see the Rebbe.”

I was jostled and pushed right up to the mechitzah. And then, suddenly, I saw the Rebbe. A powerful sense of belonging filled me. I knew, with utter clarity, that the Rebbe was aware of my presence in his shul and of my entire life journey.

I felt as though I was being embraced by a father. Like I had finally come home.

The End


After my exhilarating experience in 770, I enrolled in a school for baalei teshuvah, first in Crown Heights and then in Israel. I went on to marry and build a family. Life continues to bring challenges, but the knowledge that Hashem is with me is my guiding light at all times.

The end


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 917)

Oops! We could not locate your form.