Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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Finding Inspiration Unexpectedly
I posted earlier how excited I was to leave California (after an awesome time with my friends), and return to Brooklyn refreshed. It was a rough week back in New York. It was busy and stressful with work down to the final hour before Shabbat, when instead of emailing I should have been getting dressed for dinner.
I was invited to the Pinson family of Iyyun for Shabbat dinner and was so excited to finally have the opportunity to join them in their home. My friend came along and I was so happy when I found out a young couple I have become friendly with from the ‘hood was joining as well. Let me start off by saying that the Pinson home is adorable, just like the Rabbi’s wife, Rochie, and their beautiful children. Every dish (mostly vegan) was incredible, from the salads to the sweet potato-squash soup, to the teriyaki salmon and “creamed” spinach. It was so wonderful to feel taken care of, like I was at home. At the dinner table I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world and that Shabbat was really what life was about – as if the rest of the week is merely an illusion or a distraction from what matters and keeps me centered. We sang songs with only melody, told stories from our lives, from our week, from the Torah and our Sages. We also got the inside scoop that Rabbi Pinson is coming out with a new book of short Hanukkah meditations for each night that we light the menorah! (Can you believe Hanukkah is less than a month away?!)
We all left well-fed, happy and satisfied, and headed back to our homes grateful for families like this who show us how beautiful Shabbat can be with our own children someday.
Last week I received a touching email from the female half of the young couple from Friday’s dinner, thanking me for inspiring her. Inspiring her? I didn’t know what she was referring to. I didn’t offer any words of Torah, or a nice thought to motivate us to grow. Until I read further and remembered part of our conversation on our way to the Rabbi’s house where we spoke about where we feel comfortable eating in terms of our kashrut. I mentioned I eat at a restaurant called Sacred Chow that is vegan and certified kosher. After our talk, she was apparently really taken with the idea of food that is sacred and holy, and how we really are what we eat and should take special care to think about what it is that we are consuming. Can we say a blessing over the food before we eat it? If not, then it’s not kosher, and last week she was careful to go out of her way to find kosher restaurants for lunch.
I feel really warm and fuzzy to know that I was able to influence someone to strengthen their connection to Hashem, and it makes me realize that our words and actions have so much power when we don’t even realize it. From this, I don’t want to think about how I can continue to inspire others. On the contrary, I want to be inspired by the people who touch my life daily. If my friend was able to be inspired by me to go further in her Judaism, how can I look at this experience and be inspired by it as well? Just something to think about this week.