Teshuva Personal Stories

What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Like You Doing, Living on N.Y. Streets?

Nurit, a waitress in one of Manhattan’s most prestigious restaurants, went  to the corner grocery store, as she did every day. A single, non-religious woman in her 40s, Nurit lived moment and all she focused on was how to close as many fat real estate deals as possible. In this way she would keep financially independent and away from needing the financial assistance of her parents in Israel. She wanted to forget where she came from and not have to answer to anyone.

Surrounded by a handful of Jewish women like herself, who also sought to distance themselves from everyone and be left alone, Nurit lived in New York for 10 years. But unlike her friends, Nurit  was constantly searching and never satisfied with material life alone. “As someone coming from a prominent Persian family, I was always exposed to Jewish values ​​- Shabbat, Kiddush, holidays – but I never really connected to it.”

One day Nurit found herself on the street homeless. “I gave my soul to real estate, and sometimes I would close a nice deal. But when there were no deals, I worked for a few hours a day as a waitress, so I’d have money for food, otherwise I could starve for days on end.I also didn’t have money for my high rent. It was always dificult for me to manage alone, my parent’s assistance. I hated coming to them to ask for money.”

Though there were times that she had nothing to eat, Nurit had to prove to everyone that she was a 'heroine'; that she knew how to manage on her own and even succeed in the Big Apple. But she was lying to everyone and mostly to herself.

Nurit was mercilessly thrown into the frozen street with her possessions but she prefers not to talk about that. What she does talk about is the kindheartedness of that corner grocery store owner. Nurit went to buy some food with her last dollars. “At the grocery store entrance, I saw a religious Jew with a kipa on his head, and I had eaten hot food for a week. I had no idea how to pay my rent and worst of all I was living on the dangerous, freezing New York streets. I got the courage to pour my heart out to him and the dear Jew listened without saying a word. “

When she finished telling him her story, the Jew raised his eyes and said, “Don’t worry, G-d never leaves his children,” and with those words he signaled to one of the workers to come over to him. He spoke with the worker in Spanish and the worker came back with bags full of bread, milk, hummus, soups, and many other good things; all for me. I was embarrassed, but the dear Jew calmed me down and asked if I had any money for travel. When I said no, he took out a $ 20 note from his pocket, gave me a small piece of paper and wrote a certain address on it with a small message. “
“Go there, this is my cousin. Tell him I sent you, and he'll take care of you. And we'll be in touch, 'the grocer told her. “I thanked him and went,” says Nurit.”This man was a baal teshuva, someone who had long since returned to Judaism, inspired by Rabbi Zamir Cohen’s conferences in New York.He gave me free use of his basement apartment, 'until you get on your feet.' “I really got on my feet, but in a completely different way! I would be his guest for Shabbat meals. I saw his respect for his wife and his educated children and I thought to myself,” this is the life that I want”. As time passed, that’s what happened. I was like a daughter to them.

“The man and his wife took care of all my material and spiritual needs. I was able to completely forget the week I was lying in the streets of New York with nobody to care. I began watching Rabbi Zamir Cohen's lectures and became very strong from them. After only two weeks of lectures, I resolved to eat only kosher food “.

Nurit got on her feet, paid the rent she owed and returned to her Manhattan apartment. “I still don't consider retruning to Israel, but when I do, I have no doubt that the first thing I want to do is meet Rabbi Zamir Cohen and thank him very much.”

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