(January 5, 2023 / JNS) I recently started using my Hebrew name.
My great-grandparents, Moshe and Kayla (Morris and Katy) Tanenbaum, for whom I’m named, came from religious families in Ukraine and tried to preserve their Jewish life even in the U.S.
Katy’s father, Fishel Rubin, was a rabbi and sent his daughter far away from the Jewish pogroms of Europe.
Within two generations in America, however, all Torah observance in my family had pretty much stopped.
Until I discovered this inheritance as an adult, fell in love with it, and tried to learn as much as possible.
My Hebrew name, chosen by the rabbi my parents found when I was born, is Morasha Kehilla.
Every single time I tell someone this Hebrew name, they say, “That’s not a name.” But I love it.
Our rabbis teach that when a child begins to speak, her father must teach her Torah and Shema. What is Torah? “Torah Tziva lanu Moshe *Morasha Kehillat* Yaakov” (Talmud Sukka 42a).
This verse is the foundation of our accepting Torah from one person to the next, all the way back to Moshe Rabbeinu. It’s the secret to living a purposeful, Godly life.
“Morasha” means an inheritance, legacy, heirloom—lovingly passed from generation to generation, throughout time. “Kehilla” is community.
It is Torah that makes up the chain connecting all Jewish generations. The Torah that G-d gifted us through Moses is the inheritance of the entire community of Israel.
My maternal great-grandmother, Leah (Lizzie) Romanofsky Greenstein, also tried to remain Torah observant after fleeing Europe.
And up until my grandmother Sadie, the women in my family were still lighting Shabbat candles and keeping kosher, connecting the links in our chain for thousands of years, all the way back to Sarah, our original Jewish mother.
When I discovered Torah Judaism at the age of 30, I immediately knew I had found a goldmine.
Over the next 16 years, I sought to learn as much as possible about my background, my heritage and my legacy as a Jewish woman.
And I have tried to instill this in my own children. I’m still learning it myself, but my connection to a loving G-d and desire to know the mystical secrets of the Torah keeps me striving, searching within myself and beyond.
I still sometimes fall into the trap of human complacency. Until something wakes me up and reminds me why I’m here in this world. Like when our enemies this week in Jerusalem took the life of 15-year-old Aryeh simply for being a Jew.
After 2,000 years of exile, I’m living in the Holy Land with my husband and children. It went from a dream to reality in just a few months. I still can’t fully believe that I’m actually here.
My exiled great-grandparents could only dream of being able to live as Jews in this land.
So, I have decided to use my Hebrew name, continuing the legacy of those who have come before me, honoring my great-grandmothers, and my G-d, one mitzvah at a time.
Morasha (Mindy) Rubenstein is founding editor of Morasha Magazine, a literary and arts magazine for Jewish women. Morasha is a mom of four living in the hills of northern Israel. Read more at www.Morasha613.com.
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