Naaleh – My Oasis in the Midbar

13 10 2008

For some time, I have wanted to tell you at Naaleh how much I appreciate and enjoy your variety of classes, teachers and subjects, as well as your internet forum and speedy response to listeners. You are truly opening up the walls of the Beit Midrash for all who want to learn, probably for the first time in history.

Many late nights after an exhausting evening shift at the hospital, I have re-centered myself with your shiurim. It is a constant wonder and delight to have your resources “on tap” while taking a bus to Jerusalem, or just washing the dishes at home. All these things are a blessing, but I have still more for which to thank you.

Na’aleh was a true source of support for me during recent visits to the US. I converted to Judaism over 25 years ago, and my non-Jewish, but supportive, family live in the States. I grew up in the American South, in a place where there were scarcely any Jews at all, let alone observant ones, yet from an early age, I found myself falling in love with Judaism from afar, mostly by way of books. I grew up, I made contact with Orthodox Jews, I went through two conversions. Eventually I came to Israel for a year to study, and just never left. It was as though a Tolkien buff had spent years reading stories and suddenly found herself in Middle Earth. Now my life is here, and for my own family and children, Israel is home.

Over the last few years, I have made several trips back to visit my mother ah”s, during her long illness. It was a daunting prospect to have to deal with such a personal and spiritual challenge without my usual sources of family and community support. Naaleh was my oasis in the midbar during many of those days and nights – a constant source of the truest kind of refreshment and reassurance when I was far from Jerusalem. You made it possible for me to bring the Torah with me wherever I went.

Chana Siegel

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