Today, Tamarah Rosenberg is an Orthodox Jewish woman who lives in New Jersey with her son and commutes to rural Pennsylvania where she teaches at a Montessori pre-school, but her path to a Torah observant lifestyle started in a most unexpected way: adopted at birth by a Protestant couple from the Bible Belt, Tamarah was raised attending weekly church services with her deeply religious grandparents. In grade school, her family relocated to Southern California where she was introduced to Catholicism, and as a young adult she decided to convert.
During this time she also met and married her now ex-husband, a secular Jew. When they got engaged, the couple had thought that each would follow their respective religions. However, after a tragedy struck in her church – her Deacon and spiritual advisor was found missing and then murdered – Tamarah’s faith was shaken. Looking for new spiritual channels with which to connect, when the couple moved to Portland, Oregon a short while later, they began to participate at Gesher, a local program whose mission was to bring unaffiliated Jews back into the fold. First, they tried a Reform synagogue, but did not feel that it was the right fit for their family. Then, they began attending a Conservative synagogue, and Tamarah’s family finally felt like they had found a place for themselves religiously. From there they each began becoming more observant including shabbat, kosher, and holiday observance – all through the Conservative movement.
Then Tamarah and her husband divorced which caused a big setback in Tamarah’s Jewish journey. With one child at college and another away at a boarding school, Tamarah took a position as a live-in nanny in New York City. The family she worked for spent a great deal of time traveling around the world, and Tamarah’s position was to go with them and assist with child care. “It was incredible, I got to rub elbows with a lot of amazing and very influential people. But, I still went to bed sad every night.”
On her rare day off she would attend services at local Conservative synagogues, but eventually her employment as a nanny ended and as she was trying to figure where life might take her next, two life changing events occurred: she received a copy of the Artscroll Stone chumash from a friend and started attending her local Chabad, and after years of wondering, she finally connected with her birth mother and discovered something surprising: she had been Jewish all along.
Although Tamarah had been living a more observant life for several years it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that she began her journey to Orthodoxy. She had been doing research on Yom Kippur mikvah immersion and stumbled upon Jew in the City. Jew in the City helped Tamarah realize that she didn’t have to be “stereotypical” to be Orthodox. That she could question and have sense of humor. She always looked in awe at the women who wore the seamed stockings and “uniform-like” clothing, but knew that that just wasn’t for her. Through Jew in the City she learned that she could be modest and hip.
From Jew in the City she discovered Partners in Torah, which gave her the ability to connect with someone who truly listened and tried to understand her and where she wanted this journey to take her. Tamarah got connected with her Partner in Torah, Estee, a year ago. “I think any Jew can benefit from a person who is committed to studying and learning once a week. Estee for me has become a “soul line” of sorts, truly helping me and guiding me through so much of my journey. I don’t know how they match people, but whoever matched us must be very in tuned with Hashem because Estee is an amazing blessing in my life.”
“The more observant I’ve become, the easier life has gotten. I would never want to go back.” (If you’d like a “soul line” to learn any Jewish topic of your choice once a week for up to an hour, you too can get a Partner in Torah here.”)