October 2019
I didn't always teach Torah,
I didn't even go to shul!

Have you met Michael Barnett?

If you have been to a Chabad event recently you certainly saw him. He is an active member! Michael is there if he is in town for Shabbos and he even teaches the weekly Torah class. And all this is thanks to you making it possible for Chabad to exist in Harford County.

But you may find it hard to believe it wasn’t always this way for Michael! When he lived in NJ with his wife Robyn and his two daughters, Michael was not a regular shul goer. He was a self-proclaimed "non-observant orthodox" Jew! Michael was proud to be Jewish, but Torah observance wasn’t part of his daily life. There were a few synagogues near his home in NJ, and while the family attended kids events, Michael didn’t always go with them.

But the move from the "big city" to "Small Town USA" caused him to realize that you cannot be engaged Jewishly by the environment around you, you need to create the environment you want.

He chose to get more involved and says that "Harford Chabad is welcoming to all, no matter what your level of observance or religious knowledge,"

It didn’t change his life overnight, but over the last eight years, Michael has deepened his spirituality and involvement in a number of ways. He is an academic at heart, and the classes feed his spiritual and intellectual appetites.

But the ability to be a proud Jew in a small town was amazing when the Torah dedication became a triumphant display of Harford’s proud Jewish community.

"Just imagine a bunch of Jews dancing down Main Street Bel Air with the new Torah," Michael says. "It was a quite a sight!"

Michael had tried tefillin once just after his bar mitzvah. But thanks to a someone who cares for Judaism and mitzvot, someone like you who supports this work of making Judaism accessible; a donor whose only price was that Michael wore them every day for a year - tefillin has been a part of his daily routine for the last four years (excluding Shabbos and holidays when they are not worn).

Michael also appreciated the direct line to his rabbi and says it has greatly contributed to his deepening spirituality and observance. He supports Chabad to make it possible for the Rabbi to spend one on one time with congregants and others in the community.

Thank you for your support. Michael says that Rabbi Kushi and his wife, Fraida, do so much for the community. From Yeshiva students doing outreach to receiving a random phone call from the rabbi to a Rosh Hashanah gift box or mishloach manot basket for Purim, "these things remind people who they are as Jews," Michael says.

So thank you for making this happen and next time you see Michael, ask him for an idea of how to increase your spiritual connection, maybe he has one for you.