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October 20, 1989 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-20

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Continued from Page 5

women around her, but no
one smiled back.
When she walked out the
synagogue door, she vowed
never to return.
Mordechai became a min-
ister when she was 21. In
preparation for her ordina-
tion, she prayed intensely
and fasted twice a week.
"I wanted to get as close to
God as was humanly possi-
ble," she says. "I was willing
to do anything."
Her superiors were im-
pressed. They said she had a
"call" to be a prophetess.
Speaking in tongues, she
often led church services.
At the same time,
Mordechai found a position
in international banking.
She was required to turn in
all but $3 a week to the
When her uncle Sammy
came to visit, he was deeply
concerned. "Why are you liv-
ing like this?" he asked.
"God gave you life! You're
just a girl, but look how you
live! I'm going to send you a
ticket to Israel."
Mordechai was not inter-
ested in visiting the country,
but she was enraptured by
her uncle's stories of
fighting in the War of In-
dependence and the beau-
tiful blossoms on the trees he
had helped plant and of life
on the kibbutz. He was
returning to Israel soon, he
said, and was looking for-
ward to helping his daughter
hang a mezuzah on her new
"If you ever want anything
from Israel, just let me
know," - Sammy told his
niece. She asked for a
It arrived in the mail
several weeks later.
Mordechai hung it on the
outside of her door, touched
it and kissed her fingers.
"Then I got scared," • she
says. "I was afraid because I
hadn't asked for permission
from the principal."
So she went to him. He was
furious. "Jews have this for
superstitious reasons," he
said. "We don't believe in
them. Put this away."
Mordechai returned to her
room and placed the
mezuzah in her drawer. But
she never forgot about it.
The mezuzah, she says, was
the key to "my JeWish
neshoma (soul)."


t 23, Mordechai was
at the height of her
success in the church.
She was popular with her
fellow students; she sang in
the choir and played the
She also felt lonely, empty
and isolated, she says.

"I was afraid I wasn't
committing myself enough. I
thought something was
wrong with me."
She fasted for eight days.
She allowed church leaders
to "cast evil spirits" they
said plagued her. She still
She also continued to be
drawn to Judaism. It was a
feeling she could not escape.
, "Out of the blue one day I
decided to return to the
synagogue," she says. She
remembers hearing the
rabbi recite the Sh'ma.
"I began having the feel-
ing of wanting to be just like
Jews," she says. "I was
happy just to be with them."
Mordechai began secretly
attending Shabbat services
each week. As a minister
with the church, she often
was obligated to attend daily

fascination with
the synagogue did
not go unnoticed.
The seminary's
principal told her,
"You are a gentile!
Every night when
you go to bed you
must tell yourself
that you are a

meetings. "I used to pray
that I wouldn't have to do
anything on the weekend
because I wanted to go to
synagogue so much."
Mordechai's fascination
with the synagogue did not
go unnoticed. The semi-
nary's principal told her,
"You are a gentile! Every
night when you go to bed you
must tell yourself that you
are a gentile!"
He banned her from any
contact with Jews and
renamed her Sister Joy so
she would be filled with "the
joy of Jesus."
Mordechai was ap-
proaching her 26th birthday
and along with it, her final
vows of complete dedication
to the church. She still felt
isolated and troubled.
Students from the church,
posing as Jews, had visited a
nearby Lubavitch Center.
They returned with pam-
phlets about Pesach that in-
trigued Mordechai. She
wrote the center and asked
for more. "My mother was
Jewish," she said in her
letter. "Does that mean that
I am, too?"
Months later a response
arrived. "Thank goodness it
came in a plain, brown
envelope," she says, explain-

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