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My Quest for My Jewish Identity
How I was inspired by two women in Gladstone, Australia
Sarah Moshel describes her journey and emotional encounter with JNet Chavrusah Nicole Larney. The Chavrusah was featured in the JNet Connection #4 and met for the first time this past month.
By Sarah Moshel
My son Yishai and I flew from Sydney to Brisbane, then to Rockhampton, Central Queensland, on our way to visit two very special, inspirational Jews and their children.
I had no idea how big the country of Australia was, despite having lived here for a long time. People were being transported to villages spread out in the middle of nowhere by propeller planes that were flying off in all directions.
On Sunday afternoon, we reached Rockhampton. A small airport with barely anyone there except for the occasional worker. A sharp contrast to Sydney’s bustling airport! We rented a car and made the hour-long trip to Gladstone. After settling into our accommodations, we hurriedly left to meet the two women who had inspired our lengthy day of travel.
We had set up to meet at the home of Gabriella, a mother of four lovely kids, who brought Nicole, my JNet partner with whom I’ve been studying for the past two years, along with her two young children.
We hugged each other as Nicole entered the house, finally getting to meet in person. It was emotional and surreal. When you share and learn Torah together over the course of two years, it is emotional to finally meet, a magical experience.
In Gladstone Central Australia, which seems to be among the most distant areas on earth, Nicole has come such a long way in her quest to live a more true Jewish life. How, in this desolate wasteland devoid of any Jewish community, she has embraced more mitzvot is mind-boggling to me.
I sat at the table with these two amazing women, who were hungry for information about Judaism. We were all so excited to be there, sharing and simply being, instilling in them a sense of value and importance of being among the Jewish people.
Nicole had requested that I bring some kosher meat, so when I pulled out the partially defrosted meat, she leaped with joy! She only consumes meat that is kosher. I wish I could have given her a freezer full!
As we were in the nine days, I related the story of how when we were exiled and the Beis HaMikdash was being destroyed, the Keruvim were in an embrace. Our Rabbis explain that this was to reassure the Jewish people that, even though Hashem had exiled us, He would always be by our side, never leaving us alone, even while we were physically and spiritually separated from one another. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at these two powerful women; they are so far away but so near. Each of them is looking for a Jewish identity in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
As we took leave that afternoon in Gladstone, I smiled knowing that they are indeed not alone as JNet continues its holy mission of elevating and infusing Jewish connection with Jews globally. A Holy mission that yields amazing results!
I would like to extend a thank you to everyone at JNet and to Nicole. I am truly humbled by your journey of strength, tenacity and resilience. May you continue to go from strength to strength with your beautiful family.
To volunteer for JNet and help inspire more people like Nicole click here: Jnet.org/volunteer
To read Nicole’s full story via Chabad.org click here.