They Thought for Themselves

I was born in Tel Aviv in 1936 to parents who immigrated from Germany. My parents kept up tradition, celebrating Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and other holidays, but they were never really religious.

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I was raised in a traditional Jewish home. I refer to myself as a former “holiday Jew.” We went to synagogue on the high holidays and had family gatherings on the important holidays like Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

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I am a survivor of Hitler’s Holocaust. My family, which lived in a little city in Poland, was warm and caring. We looked out for one another. My relatives lived within walking distance of each other, so if it rained and you ducked into the nearest house, you were always in the home of a cousin or an aunt or uncle.

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I was born to Jewish parents in Kiev in 1958. My parents tried to hide our Jewishness. There was nothing Jewish in our home and we never attended synagogue. Yet, even as a child, I wanted to be Jewish because my mother and father were. I couldn’t rationalize it, but it just felt right inside.

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My life in 1982 was dedicated to the well-being of my family and to my activities at Chabad of Irvine Jewish Center. One can find Chabad centers in even the most remote communities of the world. I have always had a deep admiration for Chabad and that is why my husband and I supported the Chabad movement here in Southern California.

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“Because I work, eat, sleep and that’s the way it goes. There must be something more.” These are the words of a song that I wrote shortly after graduating from college.

It seems as though I blinked my eyes and I was married.

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“You don’t even know Hebrew! How can you tell me what the Bible says?”

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Tricia: Why did Jesus have to die for my sins? Raised as a Catholic, this concept was still foreign to me. Everyone knows if you’re a good person, you’ll go to heaven when you die. So why did Jesus have to die? It seemed odd. It didn’t fit the character of God—or did it?

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At the beginning of this century rumors began to circulate that a Jewish State was about to be reborn in the land of our forefathers. Excitement swelled in the Jewish community in Yemen as they felt the days of the Messiah were soon to come. Many Jewish people started to make their way back to Zion.

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One does not have to live too many years before he discovers that within himself there exists a certain emptiness, a void or vacuum that the things of this world can never fill. Neither money nor sex, travel, fame, drugs, titles, possessions or any other human accomplishment can fill this emptiness.

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