I was born in Paris, France, to a family that was distant from Torah observance. When World War Two broke out and the Nazis invaded France in 1940, my brother and I had to go into hiding – first in a Christian orphanage, then in a monastery, then in other Christian houses. After the war, our family reunited in Paris, though we were no more religious than before.
But then, when I was about to turn thirteen, my grandmother – who was still keeping some Jewish customs – asked me to make a Bar Mitzvah. I wasn’t too enamored with the idea, but I cooperated for my beloved grandmother’s sake. She took me to the synagogue known as the Rashi Shul in a nearby neighborhood, and that is where I prepared for and celebrated my Bar Mitzvah.
It later became clear that this was a crucial turning point in my life. In the months and years that followed, I continued to frequent the synagogue on Shabbat; I started attending Torah lessons here and there; I joined the religious youth group, Bnei Akiva; and at a certain point, I decided to keep kosher. Eventually, I enrolled in yeshivah – choosing the Chabad yeshivah in Lod, Israel, where I was later ordained as a rabbi. After getting married, I settled in Kfar Chabad, working as a teacher.
Now, what do the events of my life have to do with the Lubavitcher Rebbe?
I only discovered that many years later. (more…)