Kim Milrell da Costa

Spotting menorahs

A sign appears in a Swedish window

In my first post I spoke about how I found – and fell in love with – Israel.
Now it’s time to get just a little bit spiritual and talk about how I discovered Judaism.

Back in the days when I made my first Israeli (and Jewish) friends, I realized I knew basically nothing about Judaism. I actually don’t remember reading or learning anything about Judaism in school.

So I wanted to know more!

I began my journey by reading a lot of books. (“Judaism for dummies” was not bad at all and later made me get a copy of “Hebrew for dummies.”) I learned a lot from my newfound Jewish friends and I visited the synagogue.

Photo credit: private. Just another day in my life…

The more I learned about Judaism – the more it appealed to me.
I guess what I like the most is that you can be very Jewish without being religious. And you’ll still know all about the traditions and the holidays, which is very different from where I come from. Secular people celebrate but probably do not know too much of why or what they are actually celebrating.

When I paid my first visit to Israel my love for anything Jewish grew.

Later on, when I was back in Sweden after my second trip to the Holy Land I suffered from a post-Israel depression and it actually stuck with me until I started planning my third trip. This was in 2010 and a couple of weeks before my flight, the Icelandic volcano drama took place. Flights were cancelled all over Europe and I was afraid that the trip, which was the only thing that had kept me going the past few months, was going to get cancelled too.

However, one day as I was out walking my dog I saw a huge menorah in a window.

It probably sounds silly but as I had never before seen a menorah anywhere in Sweden, to me this was a sign.

I felt a calmness come over me; it all felt a bit religious, to be honest. I kept on walking and started to doubt myself. Was it really a menorah I had seen? Later on during the same walk I saw another menorah in another window. And this time there was no doubt about it (I have the exact same menorah at home). I almost started to cry and I stopped worrying about the Icelandic volcano (and yes, I made it to Israel!).

I kept on seeing menorahs regularly and then it suddenly stopped. (I wrote about these occasions on my Swedish blog: here, here and here.)

Early 2012 it was time to yet again spot a menorah. I was about to write an article and I was unsure of myself and I was afraid of messing it all up. I decided to go for a long walk with my dog and on our way back home… I again saw a menorah in a window. It filled me with strength and courage and I walked straight back home and wrote the article and yes, it went on to become a huge success.

So this is how Judaism came to me. Very cliche but very true.
And yes, my home is filled with both menorahs and Israeli flags.

By the way, I just published a new letter on On the Jerusalem Light Rail. Enjoy! And please submit your own ‘letter’.

About the Author
Kim Milrell da Costa is a Pro-Israel blogger, writer, and activist from Stockholm, Sweden. However he currently resides in a small town in southern Finland. He writes about 'Everything Israel' on his website, and has worked for the World Zionist Organization's Swedish subdivision: The Zionist Federation of Sweden. He is also a news junkie and he cares too much about what's going on in the world. Constantly worried.