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From Christian cult to Jewish Temple: Finding home.

I might never understand why or even how I left one abusive situation, only to blindly join another. Maybe the key is that I was blind, or maybe it was because I was served the classic bait and switch.

When I first started attending an Evangelical church in New York city where I lived, I was a 17-year-old run-away, barely a year and half gone from my dysfunctional family. Ah, but little did I know how lost-and vulnerable I was. The church promised acceptance into a forever family, unconditional love, and G-d’s forgiveness, which to be honest, I had not known I needed. But that family and love came with many strings attached that were not in the original advertisement. There were things I had to give up- like secular music, movies, friends, make-up, clothes, life, it seemed. It turns out I asked too many questions, I challenged the pastor, I ignored his wife’s suggestions on how to change my looks to “glorify G-d.” According to our domineering pastor, I had a ‘rebellious spirit,” which bible college in the hinterlands of upstate New York could supposedly cure, so off I went.

As you’ve guessed, it all ended very badly more than a decade later. I again had to run away to save what was left of my life. I had not known that the church and its pastor had all the classic signs of a cult: an infallible leader with unlimited authority, worshiped by all, manipulative techniques used to control members, and no individual freedom of conscience. I left, excommunicated from my forever-family, more broken than when I first joined, and no longer believing in any G-d, regretting that I ever had.

For twenty years I hobbled along, rebuilding my life, pretty well as it were, when I had recovered enough to hear a quiet voice, as old as my childhood, pushing me toward what was missing, prodding me toward Judaism. Why, I argued with myself. I do not believe in G-d. Ah, but the belonging…. the family, the thing bigger than myself. I had always wanted to be Jewish. By pure chance, I met the right the right rabbi, who assured me that nowhere do the commandments tell us to believe in G-d, but rather simply to live a Jewish life.

On the first night I attended services at our reformed congregation, I was moved to tears. The hauntingly beautiful melodies sung in Hebrew, which I could not understand, spoke in an unknown language to my soul. They told me that I was finally home. That these were my people, and that I belonged. I knew it that first night.

I read, I studied, I converted, supported by my goyim husband and closest friends. No one has ever demanded anything of me, and yet I give what I can. I am happy here. I know that they, and other Jews around the world are my family. I am welcomed, respected, prayed for, and loved. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these are my people, and this is my home. It took a while to find it, making it so much sweeter now that I have.

My Memoir, The Hungarian Girl is being published June 25, 2024 by She Writes Press. Please follow me here at New Memoir | The Hungarian Girl memoir | United States (

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