As I scan posts and headlines, I see people I respect responding to negativity in a positive way, standing up for what’s right in a public forum. And I realize that hiding is not the answer.
For years I avoided social media, and people in general, preferring the quiet of my home and blissful ignorance of the darkness and evil of the world. But suddenly I realize I can no longer hide.
I admire the bravery and honesty of people like Ari Fuld (of blessed memory) and Ahava Emunah Lang, for example. They used social media and other methods to give truth and goodness a voice.
My mission, for now, is to fight the darkness with light — to inspire, educate, and unite women and the greater community through words, images and ideas that represent Godliness. To unite the holy women of my community, and other communities, and to give them a forum to share their thoughts.
I have wandered a lot — mainly in an effort to find the right schools and community for our Baal Teshuvah family. Whenever someone hears about the various places my family and I have lived on our spiritual quest, they typically comment about how hard that must be. Some are sympathetic, others insensitive. It used to bother me.
But as I develop my emunah and bitachon — my inner resolve and faith in God– I realize it is all part of a greater plan. Like the Jews who wandered in the dessert not knowing their ultimate destination, we too have continued onward. Perhaps our path will lead us eventually to the Holy Land.
The story of the Israelites in the desert inching toward their final destination is the story of any individual or society making its way towards its ideal state. And the details of the story contains endless possible applications to both our private journeys and our communal ones.
As one rabbi commented recently during a Shabbat dinner — certain sparks needed to be left in each stopover.
We got to live in and experience Jewish communities in Potomac, Maryland; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia; and Jacksonville, Florida. We also make regular trips to Lakewood, New Jersey, to visit friends/chavrusahs we met through Oorah’s TorahMates program.
We have met, and continue to meet, some amazing people along our journey who have inspired us in our growth. And I hope we have inspired others as well.
As a Florida native it feels good to be back in the Sunshine State. My husband and I grew up around the block from each other in the Tampa Bay area. We met 20 years ago at the shivah of his father and our lives have been interconnected since childhood — I had his father as a teacher, our mothers have been friends for decades. It’s nice to be closer to family — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — after a decade being out of state.
And although it has been challenging to move and adapt to various cities and states over the past 10 years, it has also made us stronger as individuals and as a family. A few months ago I wouldn’t have said that. But thank G-d, I am starting to see the sun through the haze.
So, it is my prayer that you will use the words and images within these pages — both the online and printed versions of Nishei — as a springboard for your own personal growth, or simply as a way to pick yourself up when things are difficult. Life is hard. Really, really hard. There are moments where it feels nearly impossible to connect to God or to even get through the day.
In my own life I have experienced my share of struggles — miscarriages, postpartum depression and moodiness, marriage and parenting challenges. I have sought the help of therapists, medication, diet and exercise — while using spirituality to help guide and center me.
Several years into our marriage, my husband and I made the decision to take on an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, which continues to be both a blessing and a challenge — as we balance Torah and mitzvah observance with personal growth, connection to God and relationships with other people.
Along the way I received a master’s degree, won a national journalism award, started a magazine, and have devoted my heart and soul to motherhood. I have failed and I have conquered.
And I am still here. G-d has given me another day. As I say the modeh ani prayer each morning, I think that there must still be something left for me to accomplish in this lifetime. If we are still in this world, there is still more work to do.
So let’s come together as women — as daughters and mothers, sisters and wives, aunts and friends — and inspire each other.
Let’s make our matriarchs, and our moms, proud. With God’s help, we will overpower the darkness, illuminating the world with our words.
–Mindy Rubenstein, editor, Nishei Women’s Magazine
To read more about my ongoing spiritual journey, click here.
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