Seeking Guidance and Connection: Embracing Traditional Torah Judaism as a Young

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    I live in Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn New York, I used to live in Deal NJ in the Allenhurst area. I am 18-years-old from a Syrian Jewish family. I feel disconnected from my Jewish heritage. I grew up with Judaism in the background, I know how to put on tefillin but I don’t remember the Beracha for it without Googling it. I can read Hebrew very slowly but I cannot understand it properly. For the people around me, being Jewish represents little more than simply marrying other Jews, and donating money to Israel and Syrian shuls. I want something more than this, I want to raise my kids with Jewish values.

    As I explore my faith, I’ve met diverse Jewish communities. The Chabad nearby, though hospitable, holds opinions on the Moshiach that cause me to doubt their congruence with traditional, mainstream Judaism. Whenever I get close to any of them, I ask them if they believe Rav Mendel is Moshiach and they always tell me yes, this is rather off-putting to me. I’m not saying that he isn’t Moshiach, I’m not a scholar I don’t know anything at all but it seems rather odd to sing about him being the Moshiach when no other Jews support this, right? Like I want something mainstream, something normal.

    The legitimacy of such belief puzzles me: Is venerating Rav Mendel as the Moshiach an erroneous path? My affinity leans towards traditional Sephardic Rabbis, though I’m cognizant of the contention surrounding figures like Rabbi Mizrachi. Navigating this religious maze leaves me confounded about the direction to pursue.

    I was in a relationship with an Orthodox Christian, but we parted ways as I wanted to fully embrace my Jewish identity. Now, I’m shomer Shabbat, diligently wear tefillin every day, and recite the Shema Yisrael each night before sleep. I think I’ve made significant improvement, but I want to dedicate my life to Judaism, not just a couple of hours a day.

    I am very keen to delve into traditional Torah Judaism but feel lost about where to start.

    Yabia Omer

    My recommendation is to seek guidance in your community. Don’t look at other communities. There’s plenty of Torah in the SY community. You have a rich heritage that you should get closer to.


    Try the Aish website. They have a chat feature where you can ask them to assist you in finding a shul or organisation that can help you connect with mainstream Torah Judaism in your area.

    The main thing is that you find a shul with a Rabbi that can guide you along the way. I’m sure there are people on this website that can guide you in the right direction in finding a shul close to your home.

    Hatzlocha rabba


    There are a plethora of Jewish educational organisations aimed at people such as yourself. Try JLE, which is an arm of Yeshivas Ohr Somayach, one of the pioneers of the “Tshuva Movement”.


    Speak to the Troller Rav, the Troll shul is in your area, he may set you up with bchavrusah with Rav Sockpuppet if your lucky.


    As strange as it may seem, this thread may not be the best place to reconnect with whatever stream of traditional Yiddeshkeit that resonates with your beliefs and emotions. For many, the best path has been to find a local Rav or mentor that reflects the hashkafah you are seeking and allow them to introduce you to their community. There are a gazillion threads here in the virtual world of the CR debating the positives and negatives of Lubavitch that will only increase your confusion and not really provide the direction you are seeking in the real world for connection to people and places where you will find a welcoming spiritual home. If practical, it may be as simple as attending the davening or at a local sephardic shul or one of their classes during the week (if driving is an issue)


    Stay away from Chabad / Lubavitch — far away.

    Stay within the Syrian Jewish community, and do not go outside of it,
    because they are the ONLY people people who will understand you,
    because they are the ONLY people people who will respect you,
    because they are the ONLY people people who will want you.

    The Syrian Jewish community can give you everything you need,
    you just must know where to find it.

    Visit as many Syrian synagogues as possible, get to know them all.


    Well done for coming as far as you have! I have the greatest respect for you and I wish you hatzlachah rabbah in growing ever closer to Hashem.


    Square Root: A bit paranoid? As I noted in my post, a local Sephardic shul is a good place to start but certainly not the ONLY option if he doesn’t find a connection there.

    Menachem Shmei

    The CR is a very diverse place where we debate many opposing views in Yiddishkeit.

    This is not a great place to find practical direction.

    Each one of us has the groups that we might think you should stay away from.
    As a Lubavitcher, I think a wonderful way to get closer to Yiddishkeit is with Chabad (I know Rabbi Levin, he’s a great guy!)

    Practically, I think you should find a local orthodox Jew (or better, a rabbi) whom your family is already acquainted with, even a little bit (I’m sure there’s someone), and ask him to connect you with someone to move forward with.

    Much hatzlacha,
    it may be a bumpy journey, but stay strong and don’t give up!


    Congratulations on trying to grow!
    1) So you want to know where to start. Next Monday, Dec. 18 at 1:30 P.M. Frida Tarrab is giving a free beginner’s Hebrew class at the Sephardi c Community Center, 1901 Ocean Parkway. 718-627-4300.
    Why do you start with Hebrew? Because the prayers are recited in Hebrew. The Chumash is in Hebrew. Halacha sefarim are in Hebrew. That holds true regardless of which flavor of Orthodox you decide to become.
    2) Start going to daven somewhere on Shabbos morning. (You will need to daven in English.) Why Shabbos morning? Because usually there is a kiddush where you can meet other people. Besides that, look around and say, “would I want to bring my kids here to daven?” If the answer is no, then daven somewhere else the next week. If you don’t know that much about Judaism, then it is impossible to know whether any individual is or is not Mashiach. Ask an easier question. Are there any 5th – 8th grade boys here? (The sons of the Rabbi don’t count.) If not, where are they? You want to eventually expand your observance of Shabbos until you are keeping 100% of Shabbos.

    3) So you want to raise your kids with Jewish values. That’s great. What does the expression “Jewish values” mean to you? Rabbi David Gottleib lectures in Ohr Sameach and his lectures are published on You Tube. He lectures in English on Jewish values. Check him out and see whether you agree or disagree with him. It’s a lot cheaper and easier than going to Jerusalem for a year.
    When you are ready to get married, going to Ohr Sameach for a year might be a good way to finish the process of becoming frum. It will also enable you to get dates with women who share your values (via a Shadchan). IMHO, you should wait until you get married to pick which flavor of Orthodox you are going to go with. Why? If you decide that you are only going to date Syrian Ba’alot Tshuva, you might never get married. Find someone who shares your values, so that it is easier to make decisions like where to send your kids to school, etc.
    If there are girls who went to your high school that are doing Tshuva, you owe it to yourself to check them out. You will probably have a lot more in common with them, then you do with most Syrian girls. Think about it. A girl who went to your high school and decided to do Tshuva is on the same life trajectory as you.
    It’s a long road from where you are to where you want to be. By deciding not to decide right now, it allows you to go check out different options for a while without committing to anything permanently. Good Luck!

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