I am Frum Today because of Arnold Schwarzenegger by Yonatan Danino

I am Frum Today because of Arnold Schwarzenegger by Yonatan Danino

The following story, by Yonatan Danino as told to Isaac Horowitz, is reprinted from Ami Magazine. It is the incredible teshuva story of the brother-in-law of actor and musician Shuli Rand, who later worked together with him to create the movie Ushpizin.

“Almost everyone who lives in Hollywood is an actor…Like them, I had to look for temporary employment, and I turned to a local Israeli security firm. Israel has a great reputation when it comes to security, so as a former Israeli soldier, I was qualified to serve as a bodyguard.

“They sent me to a large estate for an interview with the owners, who were looking to hire protection. The owner of the house was Maria Shriver…Her husband was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a famous actor before going into politics. His family was afraid people might try to assassinate him, so he needed bodyguards and a security team….

“I had many conversations with Schwarzenegger, who was very interested in Judaism and Israel…”

“I was thrilled with my job because it afforded me the opportunity to spend time with a famous actor and to meet the biggest directors and producers in the industry. The door was open to me.

“But it was then that my pintele yid was awakened. And the one who was responsible for that, surprisingly, was my boss–Schwarzenegger himself.

“You see, I got an up-close view of a person who had everything. He once sent me to deliver a $20 million check; I don’t know anyone else who’s held a check for that much money…He was living a life of untold wealth and was unbelievably famous. You would expect such a person to be happy and satisfied, but Schwarzenegger told me many times how depressed he was.

“His family was estranged, cold towards him…The family was miserable and Schwarzenegger was miserable.

“I thought to myself, “Here is a person with wealth other people can only dream of, and yet he isn’t happy. What’s the point of working so hard for a career and success?”

“Until then, I had thought that fame and fortune brought happiness. But working for Schwarzenegger, I saw a person who had everything and wasn’t happy at all. He had cars, motorcycles, boats–but I was happier than he was. Slowly it dawned on me that I was wrong to chase the fool’s gold of the physical world.

“One Friday after work, I was returning to my apartment when I saw frum Jews dressed in Shabbos clothing hurrying to shul. I found myself thinking, ‘What kind of family life does Schwarzenegger have compared to what I used to see [when I was growing up]— Shabbos with the whole family around the table, talking and singing together, a life of simplicity ans spiritual wealth?” I decided it was time for a taste of that lifestyle…

“I parked my car and followed those Jews into the shul…And that was my first step back to Yiddishkeit.”

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