Yesterday, I had a meeting with someone at work. Her name sounded pretty Jewish but from the way she looked there was no way to tell. Pants and a short-sleeved t-shirt, long brown hair with light yellow streaks (obviously dyed), I couldn't know for sure.
When there was a technical glitch on the computer and I couldn't continue with our meeting, we instead started to talk. She was very friendly and open about her life and I asked her some basic questions about herself.
It was interesting that when I asked her which school she went to, she immediately chose to identify herself with the Jewish one she had gone to up until 5th grade. Although after that she went to public school and then continued on to college, she chose to tell me that she went to a Jewish school. It was geared to Russian girls who came from non-religious homes, just like she did.
It was taking a while for the technician to fix the technical problem on the computer but let me tell you, everything has a reason. Hashem set the stage, for her to come with more than enough time for the meeting before going on to her next stop and for the computer to act up (it barely EVER happens) so that we could talk about Judaism (for close to an HOUR)!
It was amazing to see that when I started telling her little things about torah, I was able to see the interest on her face, like she was listening with her heart and so badly wanted to hear more.
I asked her if she keeps kosher and she said no. I asked her if she keeps shabbos and she said no. But her family does do something each shabbos. Her mother doesn't light candles on Friday night and her father surely doesn't go to shul. The extent of their shabbos is a family meal together every Friday night. No kiddush, no zemiros, no divrei torah. Just a meal with everyone together on Friday night. I told her that what her family does is really big in Hashem's eyes because they are remembering every single week that shabbos has come. And that is what is important.
I told her that people think Judaism is all or nothing - but that's not true. Hashem doesn't expect us to do everything in one day. A person shouldn't think that if they can't keep the whole shabbos they shouldn't even try. I told her how valuable every act she does is in shamayim, how Hashem wants to see that a person remembers that it's shabbos, even if that means not answering the phone the second it rings, waiting a minute to respond to that text message or not turning the TV on for an extra five or ten minutes. Because that is showing Hashem that she remembers that today is shabbos.
It was so sad to see how far removed she is. But it was heartwarming to see how much she wanted to learn and know and how that pintele yid, that teeny flame, is alive in her heart.
I told her a lot of things while the computer technician did his work. I could see that she really wanted to hear more. Her neshama was starving for inspiration and I could see it on her face. My job is not to make her frum. All I wanted to do was give her a positive Jewish experience.
She told me that she would want to learn more about Judaism, she's just been really busy and doesn't have time. When she has children, she would want them to go to a Jewish school so they can learn more about what it means to be a Jew and then hopefully she can learn from them. She is quite a few years older than me but I told her it is not too late to learn, it is never too late to learn more.
I am hoping to follow up with her somewhat over the next few phone conversations with her but it's a hard balance. I have to be able to mix (or not) business with pleasure and must be careful not to cross the line.
What inspired me most about our meeting was that deep connection that every Jewish soul has and nothing can take that away. Speaking to someone who has very little connection to the Jewish nation but yet when she met me she immediately identified herself with the Jewish school she went to and showed such a strong interest in hearing more about yiddishkeit showed me that it never hurts to open up a conversation with someone about Judaism. You never know how they'll react and how years down the line they may remember the conversation they had with you.
May Hashem bring back all the lost souls so they can see with their own eyes and feel in their hearts how lucky we all are to be born into the Jewish nation!
There is so much more in my heart and so many thoughts from that meeting that are hard to put down...but let's hope that one day she will learn more, grow more and realize that she has a treasure in her backyard...and begin to live with it!