Meet Polina

“It was my first Jewish experience,” said Paulina. “I still don’t understand how my parents, who considered themselves atheists, agreed to send me to the local Jewish summer camp, Gan Israel. It was a life-changing experience for me.”

“My parents were shocked and concerned when I told them that I wanted to start lighting Shabbat candles Friday evenings. They asked lots of questions. When my mother realized that I was committed, she decided that she would light with me, to support my journey.”

“That was two years ago. I’ve since joined the local Jewish school, where I’ve forged strong friendships. I now call myself by my new Jewish name, Baila, and I’m proud to be an active member of our community’s youth club. Each Friday night my “atheist” mother continues to light Shabbat candles with me.”

“I’ve come to a point in my life where I feel like I’ve reached a fork in the road and the choices I make will dictate my future. I plan to continue my studies in Israel. Although it will be difficult for me to leave my family and new friends, I know that this is best for me.”

“Last Friday, after we lit the Shabbat candles, my mother turned to me and said, ‘I want you to know that while you’re in Israel, I’m going to continue lighting these candles every week.’ This is the best going-away present she could give me!”

Meet Chaya
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