My Name is Leah and I was born in England. My story is very complex so I will try and keep it short.
How did my path into Judaism start? When I was in high school, I took a class for a year in Judaism, for no other reason than the fact that different cultures and religions interested me.
I then left England at the age of 20 to travel the world and search for the true meaning of life. I thought it must be hidden in the mist of the East or down under. For many years I traveled studying different cultures, philosophies and religions for the ultimate truth of existence, the reason of why to get up in the morning?
I had been to many countries, lived and experienced many paths, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago that the truth came to me so clearly. It wasn’t until 2 years ago when I became friends with Israelis, and some of them were putting on Teffliin (phylacteries) that I released the answer that I had been praying, searching and crying for. I am to lead a life as a Jew. Since then I have never looked back. I started my studies via online shiurim (classes).
A few of my Israeli friends knew that I wanted to convert and they knew that I wanted to submerge myself in studies a religious community in Israel. This is when they recommended Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin. To be honest I didn’t do much research. I trusted my friends as they knew me, that I love nature, health, a nutritional life style for the body, mind and soul. Knowing that I have been independent and that I am mature and that I needed my space, and a sense of self and freedom, this was the place for me.
Like anyone who first arrives to Bat Ayin the question is, where am I? What am I to do in this isolated place? Can I really survive here let alone thrive?
For me when it came to Shabbat these questions just slipped away, and I saw the real beauty of Bat Ayin. It became this sacred dwelling place within Israel radiating, simcha (happiness), ahava (love) and a unique divine connection to Hashem (G-d). It wasn’t long before I realized that I hadn’t left Bat Ayin for weeks and it became a place I called home, a garden of Emunah (faith). Only bringing me to Hashem in the purest way.
I don’t know if you can call B’erot a school, its more of a home for women seeking Hashem in the rawest form. It is this unique space created that you will not find anywhere else in Israel. It attracts many women of all ages, from all corners of the world, from different paths, stories, goals, talents but all coming together for the one purpose, to learn Torah and find their own personal connection to Hashem. There are a wide range of classes going into depth in most aspects for Judaism. History, Tanach (Bible), Jewish philosophy, Halacha, Jewish Thought, and even classes in Hebrew, Yoga, Dance, and Herbs.
The school offers students a great opportunity to connect to the land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael. Not only by living in caravans, in the Judean Hills but learning to grow your own healthy greens for lunch. It doesn’t just teach the the theory of how to live as a Jewish woman, it gives you the foundation and the space to put this knowledge into use before having a family so that if any questions arises then you have the support that you need For example, we open the doors to people for Shabbat and chagim (holidays), so we are learning how to host visitors like our forefather Abraham. We learn how to give Terumah and Maaser (agricultural offerings), how to help to the community by doing Chesed (helping others), how to keep kosher, clean for Passover, and other things to run a Jewish household.
Another point that the school gives the students, is the opportunity to grow and it teaches you how to live in harmony with one another. We work on our middot (character traits). Judaism is about one nation and unity among Jews, to love your neighbor, and the effort, the reward and punishment being in a collective not just an individual . The B’erot school gives you a chance to work on this important aspect of Judaism as well as your personal connection and relationship with Hashem, because after all, the way we interact with people is only a reflection of our interaction with Hashem.
Conversion is a challenging time, it strips away all of your past and allows you to fill it up with the light of truth. This process and be very challenging physically, mentally and emotionally for anyone. Thankfully B’erot has the tools, experience and knowledge on how to support students through this process. It really helps you to understand what it is to be a Jew, how to live as an observant Jew and to build a Jewish home!
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