A Secular Mother’s Journey Towards Religious Empathy

American-Israeli Judith Colp Rubin has had ups and down with accepting her 21-year-old son’s decision to become a baal teshuva seven years ago. In the wake of her husband’s illness and death, her son began to find meaning, purpose and community in Judaism. While she has come to terms with his study in yeshiva, his eschewing of army service and her begrudging kashering of her kitchen, they have since carved out a special relationship. She has since come to appreciate religious Judaism’s focus on kindness, as well as the tenets of “respect for parents, disdain for gossip and lack of materialism.” She says, “I believe that children, if their eyes are open, have the right to do what makes them happiest. The unexpected part of his religious journey was that it also turned into a journey of my own, from an anti-religious secular Jew to a secular Jew with religious empathy.”

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