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September 12, 1986 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-09-12

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ogy background to the num-
bers and letters and learn
this new way of thinking.
After a while I realized some-
thing deeper than words can
describe. I saw the purpose of
my existence as a Jew and I
was honored to be just that."
She knew she had to
change immediately. With
Rabbi Silberberg's help, she
enrolled her three children in
a Jewish day school and
began a total life-style
At first her family resisted,
but after seeing her consis-
tent determination, they
began to accept her decision.
Two of her sisters began to
study with Silberberg and
also embraced a Lubavitch
Today, she and her ex-
tended family are avid sup-
porters of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Once a month, her family
hosts a minyan at their
home. "I have become tradi-
tional in every sense of the
word," she says of her ten-
year journey. "My life re-
volves around Shabbos and
maintaining a proper Jewish
environment for my fami-


young man or woman
decides to learn more
about Judaism and is
inspired to lead a more ob-
servant life.
What happens to the indi-
vidual's relationship with his
parents, spouse and children?
Both Rabbis Jacobovitz and
Silberberg recognize the chal-
lenges and problems that con-
front a Baal Teshuvah and
his family. In order to
preserve family harmony,
they counsel both sides to
remain level-headed and try
as best as possible to accom-
modate one another's needs.
Rabbi Silberberg says, "The
major stickler is ,usually a
question of Kashruth. In to-
day's society, there are so
many carry-outs, plastic and
paper silverware and dishes.
The key is flexibility and the
desire to keep a family
Some of the Baalei
Teshuvah interviewed were
greeted with admiration and
acceptance. They often pro-
vided the spark for their
entire family's re-
Robbie Udman's mother,
Carol, describes herself as "so
proud to see him strong
enough to be so independent.
He's found a meaning to life.
The first Shabbat he was
home, we finally sat down as
a family together and had a
beautiful meal."
Other families, recognizing
their confusion and frustra-
tion, work together.
At first, Ed Hurvitz had a
lot of explaining to do. His
parents were afraid they
wouldn't see their grandchil-
dren, and would never have
Ed and his family over for
Ed remembers his father's

first reaction. "He had a lot
of stereotypes. He was afraid
we'd have a lot of dirty kids,
that I would quit medical
school and go off to the
"Finally, my parents
realized that I was essen-
tially the same person. I had
the same sense of humor, the
same way of doing things.
Gradually, my parents have
come to see our Orthodox
lifestye as a good thing," Ed
Rae Hurvitz, Ed's mother,
adds, "My son and daughter-
/ in-law have taught me. We
work together because I want
them to feel at home here.
We bought new dishes and
silverware. These seem like
small accommodations for
people you love and respect."
Ed's father, Harold, ex-
plains the importance of
mutual respect. "Ed doesn't
insist I become Orthodox. He
understands our lifestyle."
For some Baalei Teshuvah,
the joy of fulfilling mitzvot
will always be saddened by a
spouse's refusal to cooperate
or parents' unwillingness.
Beverly Engelhardt, a
psychotherapist and mother
of four, became a Baal
Teshuvah in her late 30s.
After a family trip to Israel
and a lot of soul searching,
she realized she was tired liv-
ing with an incomplete
Judaism. Announcing to her
family, "From this day forth
we are going to live as Jews,"
she met a lot of opposition.
For one, her husband Stan-
ley, was very comfortable as
a Reform Jew and her oldest
and middle son strongly iden-
tified with him.
She began to study with
Rabbi Silberberg and adopt a
Lubavitch lifestyle. "I told
my family I didn't want to
lose them but if they didn't
go along with me, I'd have to
live in an apartment."
With Rabbi Silberberg's
help, she enrolled her chil-
dren in a day school and
helped them work through
their anger and frustration.
It was difficult at first.
They had many arguments
and long discussions. "I have
to raise my kids by what I
think is right," Engelhardt
explains, "I'm trying to give
them something for when
they grow up. Then they'll
have a choice."
After one year, she and the
children continue to walk two
miles to Silberberg's Bais
Chabad on Shabbat. The
children are fairly adjusted to
their new school.
Engelhardt's daughter is
"almost completely Lubavitch
after attending a Lubavitch
summer camp." She and her
husband still don't see eye to
eye on practice, but they are
beginning to get used to one
another's Judaism.
"I make the most delicious
Shabbos meals and Stanley
loves to eat," Engelhardt
says. "So we celebrate Shab-
bos as a family." ri


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