I was raised in an intermarried family, with a mother who was conservative, and a father who was a native-American redneck, if you can picture that . We would drive to shul every week, but I never felt connected to the Jewish people, or any group at all for that matter. To “Ultra Orthodox” I was secular, to white people I was a Jew, and to everyone else I was just another white boy. Everyone had their own box to put me into, but I lived my life the way I wanted to, and lived life with no limits.
About two years ago, I began to explore my spirituality, and began finding that my core belief in what I thought “God” was were already in Judaism. Then, summer 2012, my life completely changed. Literally overnight, I picked up, left for Israel on Taglit, and stayed for 7 months. I went from being completely secular to being in Yeshiva with a beard in a very short time.
When I came back, I found there were new boxes for me to be put into. To non-Jews, I was suddenly a rabbi, to secular Jews I looked like I stepped off an 18th century Russian Shtettle, and to those who were ‘FFB’ (Religious from birth), I was, just something else. On the inside of the Frum community, I was a different breed. Sometimes I was a curiosity. Usually, I was something that just didn’t fit. Our backgrounds were different, our experiences were different, the only thing that seemed to connect us was religion, and I was miles behind.
In the outside world, I became the representative of my whole people. I couldn’t go places I used to, I had to restrict my actions, I even found myself unable to talk to women without rethinking every other sentence that came out of my mouth. Most of my behaviors I had developed over the years just wouldn’t fly. Before I knew it, I had created my own box.
In the end though, I am me. There is no box that can hold me. If you like me, we’ll be good friends, and if not, your mom is a nice lady and have a good day! This new path I am on is going to be a long one, but I’ll find my way.