I Found God, But I Lost Me: A Baalat Teshuva’s Journey

I Found God, But I Lost Me: A Baalat Teshuva’s Journey

A few months back I was speaking with Batya Sherizen (AKA Batya the Baby Coach) about an article she was writing for JewishMOM.com on getting babies to sleep. And during our conversation, Batya mentioned that, by the way, she is a musician. On a hunch, I asked her to send me some songs. And when I heard her music, I was completely, totally, goose-bumpily blown away. I hope that you will find her musical teshuva story as inspirational as I did…

I Found God but I Lost Me: A Baalat Teshuva’s Story by Batya Sherizen

Lyrics I wrote as a lost, teenage girl
I’m feeling jaded and out of sorts
With this tornado swirling ‘round
Your neglect has me sore
But still I feel so bound…

As a teenager I was passionate about my music. It was my self-expression, my outlet, my best friend.

Whenever I felt down or desolate, songwriting was my therapy and helped me reconnect with myself.

I also enjoyed sharing my music, despite my nerve-wracking stage fright. It was hard to expose such a vulnerable, raw part of myself, but my music moved my listeners, and that ability to touch others so deeply thrilled me.

I was raised with minimal exposure to Judaism: a traditional Friday night meal, and my mother’s occasional threat to disown me if I would marry a non-Jew.

My older sister had become religious and would tell me often that life held more than my self-centered circle of friendships, losses, and teenage angst. There was meaning in life, she insisted. And I believed her. But I wasn’t ready to believe that the deeper Something I knew was out there somewhere had anything to do with food restrictions and dress from centuries past.

I had always felt pulled to something deeper and bigger, within myself and in life. And the only thing I knew for sure was that my music was part of that elusive “something” I was looking for.

I felt most connected to that “something’ when I played music. So I kept writing songs celebrating friendships and sadness, and the yearning of my soul. I marked my search with new lyrics and hours locked in my bedroom with my guitar.

My best friend shared my search for that bigger and greater Something. We eventually started thinking that we might be able to find it through a more honest look at Judaism. So we learned a little with the local Chabad rabbi and attended some classes, and we found some reading material online.

My friend and I gradually began to keep Shabbos. I didn’t yet feel that I had found anything real, but at that point my music began to feel more meaningful.

Shabbos in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio was by no means a spiritual experience. It basically meant locking myself in a bedroom to read and sleep. Still, though, something started to feel right.

Lyrics from a girl on the path towards Judaism
This nest of complications is jading my faith
And from this twig I’m slipping from grabbing hold too late
Will I ever fly higher than I see?
The others in the sky, like them I’ll never reach…

After graduating high school I deferred college for a year and came to seminary in Israel. I wasn’t expecting to become Orthodox like the rabbi with his magician hat, but I was hoping to unlock some of the mysteries of the world and find my place in that grand picture.

I stayed in seminary for well over a year, during which time my understanding of things was revolutionized. I didn’t make severe changes that wouldn’t stick, but I began to understand why it’s so important to have a relationship with God.

As time progressed I became Shomer Torah U’mitzvos myself and before I knew it, I had also become one of those weird Orthodox people (my family certainly thought so.)

But all bubbles pop from outside pressure, and my time in Israel was up and I had to re-enter reality and go to college. That return to real life tested who I really was, and the authenticity of my choices. It tested whether my insights were strong enough to withstand multiple challenges.

And my music kept that vulnerable bubble intact. My new songs were about my relationship with God, my spiritual growth, my soul. At times of hardship or worry I picked up my guitar and played my guts out – and it felt amazing.

That was a very musical period of time. I did women’s concerts, and surprisingly, my old stage fright disappeared when I felt I was really giving something to my audience. Perhaps because I realized that giving to others was what my songs were meant for, and in fact, that playing music was part of my destiny – inspiring myself and those around me, connecting us to that greater Something that I had found during those months at seminary.

These song “Your City” and “Come Together” were written at this point in my life (lyrics below)…
FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN ONLY, PLEASE!
Batya songs by jenny18
A few years later I got married and we made the decision to start our life together in Israel with my husband learning in Kollel. I reconnected to the beauty and spirituality that made me religious in the first place. We decided that this is the life we wanted: a life of Torah, a life of truth, a life of connection.

Batya with her 3 children.


We had two kids fairly quickly, Baruch Hashem, but idealism doesn’t pay the bills. With a full-time Kollel husband, and two kids in three years of marriage, I was working hard. I went from job to job, not feeling satisfied. I knew I was neglecting a deeper part of myself, but I could hardly remember what that was.

I knew I loved music, but between being the breadwinner, homemaker, cook, and mother, I didn’t have time to be that other person anymore. My guitar waited, abandoned in a corner, but I was too busy to pay any notice.

After working for a kiruv organization for a few years and helping other Jews discover the roots that I was so lucky to have reconnected with, the growing void within myself began to fester.

I was thirsting for music, for that part of myself. But where was I supposed to find the time for it? I had three kids under age three and a half, a still full-time Kollel husband, and I was being stretched thin in multiple directions.

I now had God in my life, but sometimes I wondered where I was.

Everything changed though when I started my own business. I opened a consulting service helping mothers with their babies’ sleep challenges, and I was happier working my own hours and not being bound to the clock. My work was and is very fulfilling. I work with mothers to help their babies sleep better. I love empowering women by helping them get the sleep they need, guiding them to take care of themselves in that way.

In my newfound bit of extra time, I joined Rabbi Aryeh Nivin’s Personal Development chaburah which helps women tune into their essence and personal frequency. From there it all clicked for me.

I started writing songs again, singing again, playing again. I was suddenly rejuvenated. I had more energy for my kids, I was a better wife, and I even worked harder hours on my job. With music back in my life, I had the spiritual and emotional gasoline to drive my life and be me again.

I am once again getting involved in the world of women’s music and have started performing again. I trust that my fear of singing in public will dissipate yet again as I find the venue that is right for me, inspiring women, perhaps other baalos teshuvah, to come closer to Hashem.

I’m still trying desperately to balance everything. The weeks that I don’t let myself slip into too-busy mode, and give myself the gift of an hour with my guitar, I feel myself flourishing. I love my family more, and there seems to be a special spice in the food I prepare for them.

I am still pulled in many directions, but one truth I learned on my journey is how important it is to find whatever you’re passionate about and do it.

Every woman owes it not only to herself, but to everyone around her as well.

In order to give to those important people in our lives, we have to first give to ourselves by channeling our own special music, whatever unique melody each mother’s soul yearns to sing out to the world.

Batya Sherizen, AKA “Batya the Baby Coach” offers a professional baby sleep consulting service, advising parents on how to train their babies and toddlers to sleep better during the night and day. She has helped countless mothers and babies regain their sleep through her holistic and gentle sleep programs. In addition to being Batya the Baby Coach, she is also a wife, mother, and musician living in Jerusalem, Israel. To invite her to perform in your community, contact her through her website: www.batyathebabycoach.com

Lyrics to Come Together

Come Together
Take me back to your palace
Stand in smoke through horizon sun
Take me back onto that mountain
600,000 soul like one

Chorus:
Come get together come be a part
Like one man with one heart
Come get together and soon you’ll see
That his vision lets us be
The chosen ones to wear his crown
And build a home in our ground
Come Together

How beautiful are your footsteps
Say the others passing through
And how lonesome is your nation
For your presence we once knew

Chorus

Take me back to your palace
Stand in smoke through horizon sun
Take me back onto that mountain
600,000 soul like one

Chorus

Your City
This big grid I can’t seem to take
I’m yearning to return home
And it’s not so hard to understand
Here I feel alone

I know the bombs keep dropping on down
But I still long to be
Amongst the rest who know the truth
I shall return and see

Chorus:
Your city
I left my heart under the stones
His love lives on
Up above in His throne
And I’ll never forget
Where I belong
Because His loves lives on
Up above in this throne

Maybe my tears will burn a home
For those who cannot see
What lays beyond the hate and screams
A place where we’ll all be free

Chorus

Our eyes are open wide
The love we shall abide by
I know I don’t know why
I’ll try not to cry
I’ll let you lead the way

Chorus

Related posts:

Mommy Peptalk: My Own, Personal Garden of Eden
The Rebbe who Risked his Life for Mikveh
The Unexpected Phone Call

15 comments

  1. Wow! I have heard Batya perform a few times and it was incredible. Also she helped my second daughter to become a champion sleeper. She is a multi-talented mommy! (OK, Batya is also my neighbor and friend – and I’m so proud to see her in this beautiful article – Thanks Chana Jenny!)

  2. Tsipora Raphael

    I was blown away by Batya’s music, I feel very connected to the lyrics and to Batya’s story. It gave me hope and strength to follow my own passion which is writing. Thank you! Tsipora.

  3. Beautiful Batya, your music is great! I recognize myself in a way in this story: I used to play the guitar and sing a lot about… 10 years ago! Since I made Alya and became more religious (6 years ago), I found that a lot of the music I used to listen to didn’t “match me” no more… now I discovered a lot of great israeli musicians, and I feel that music and spirituality are bound together but it’s been years that my guitar is set aside… I’m a working mother and I don’t find the time for it 🙂 or perhaps it is that I don’t take the time for it…. Good luck and I hope to hear more of your music!

    • The “musical transition” is very difficult when becoming religious, I agree. But music is so spiritual, I think everyone can find a type they connect to. Good luck with your music too!

  4. devorah

    Batya-
    Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story and your beautiful music!

  5. I’m proud of you Batya 🙂

  6. Wow, Batya. Beautiful, soulful music and a great story. I love your voice.

  7. Sooo beautiful!!! I’m so proud of you Batya!! Proud of your strength and beauty and proud to be your friend. I love you!!! May hashem bless you with continued success in everything you do, cant wait to hear more of your beautiful music.
    You’re an inspiration to all those around you, near or far 😉

  8. Wow Batya!
    Your music is just so deep. I had shivers listening to it and i connected so much to the words and the tunes…
    If you ever put out a CD let us know!

  9. I was deeply moved by your story and your music!
    (Then I looked at the name and realized you’re Moshe’s wife, confirmed by your mother in law.) Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. It gives us all the push to discover and pursue our mission.
    Regards!

  10. Thanks everyone! All of your positive feedback really means a lot to me as I’m just getting back into my music recently. I don’t know if I’ll be making a CD anytime soon, but I would love to get back into performing =-).

  11. really really good music, really really good voice, please put out a CD…and make a song called “almond eyes”….shes gorgeaous! all the best!

  12. your music has brought such wonderful tears to my eyes i cant stop listening to it. Do you have an album, or anywhere the music can be downloaded ,or more songs, anything I’ll take it

  13. i want a CD!!!!!

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