My Journey to Observance

This blog is all about my journey in becoming an orthodox Jew. You’ll hear about my up’s and down’s, my motivated times and difficult times, and of course, my¬†achievements!

Ba’alas teshuva‘ means ‘master of repentance’, and it’s when somebody becomes more religious than they were previously. It’s sometimes shortened down to BT.

I was raised mainly by my mother in a secular/non-religious home. I went to Jewish schools, but we never practised anything in our home. I never thought twice about being religious before.

Then all of a sudden at the age of 15, I got a boyfriend. He was quite religious, modern orthodox, and his way of life rubbed off on me. The family connections were amazing; they were so close. He seemed so spiritual and close to G-d. It was inspiring.¬†Something sparked inside, but I didn’t know what.

Fast forward a few months, single again, and still confused about what I want.

Then came Chanukah.

In school, we celebrate Chanukah. We light the menorah together, say the brachos and sing the songs. Normally, it really wouldn’t affect at all, but this year when we lit those candles, I felt something really strong inside and for once I actually wanted to do it myself at home.

Those initial feelings has lead me on the start of this journey. It’s long, slow, difficult but progressive. But there’s no end. In Judaism, it’s important that we continue to expand and develop and grow. And that’s what I’m doing now, and will continue to do so.

Let’s categorize my journey so far…

  • Tznius clothing – check
  • Shomer shabbos – check
  • Kosher at home – not really. The reason for this is because I live with my mum and she’s not kosher. I can’t force my religious beliefs onto her, so I just do my best.
  • Kosher out – I do my best. My parent’s are divorced, and my dad visits my fortnightly. He takes me out to treif restaurants, so I just try to avoid the worst. I’ll overcome this at some point.
  • Regular davening – I can read Hebrew quite fast, but only if I am familiar with the text. If it’s new I’m fairly slow, and it’s frustrating. I try to daven a little every day, I have become regular with modeh ani, negel vasser and the morning blessings. I try to say Shema twice a day too. It’s just hard sometimes with school starting so early and we don’t do any davening in school.
  • Shaatnez – so far so good!
  • Tzedakah – as and when, quite regularly

There are so many more parts to Judaism, such as study, Tehillim and mezuzot that will be covered over time. Like I’ve said before, it’s a journey; can’t go doing everything at once!

About the Author
Leah Shaina Swift resides in East London and is studying for her A-Levels. Her interests include cooking, playing tennis and reading into politics and global issues.