Why I Was so Excited to Lay Tefillin for the Very 1st Time by Joseph Cosenza Petrone

Why I Was so Excited to Lay Tefillin for the Very 1st Time by Joseph Cosenza Petrone

[Since last week, my husband’s been guiding the Israel trip of a California synagogue. The trip has been plagued by COVID infections and extreme weather.
But despite all the disruptions, thanks to the amazing participants, the trip’s been incredible. But the absolute highlight for my husband was having the honor of teaching a participant to lay tefillin for the first time, especially considering that specific participant’s remarkable life story and circuitous journey back to Judaism, told here, in his own words]:
My mother’s mother was Jewish, but she converted to Catholicism to marry my grandfather.
So I was raised Catholic, but I decided to leave Christianity behind when I was in middle school.

I’ve always been spiritual and mystically inclined, and over the years I experimented with Buddhism, Sufi Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
But after years of dabbling in different religions, I realized I wanted to be religiously monogamous, to put down roots in a tradition that would be supportive of both intellectual and philosophical study, as well as mystical perspectives and experience.
And that was how I decided Judaism was for me. What a wonderful surprise it was to discover after deciding this that I was actually already halachically Jewish!
I reverted to Judaism this past summer, and have slowly begun to adopt observant practices such as regularly attending Shul and Shabbat dinner.
One practice in particular I’ve been interested in was tefillin. I’ve always found something beautiful in this simple religious object.
Putting on tefillin for the first time today felt very special. As Rabbi Josh showed me how to wrap the straps around me, and I immediately felt connected more deeply to this tradition that’s been preserved for so many thousands of years.

Saying the blessings I felt peaceful and very proud. I then returned to my room, put on my tallit, took out my siddur, and began to pray.
I’m very proud to be a Jew and I’m falling in love more and more deeply with Judaism every day. I keep kosher and wear my kippah daily (I actually Crochet all of my kippot). I study the Tanakh and commentaries, as well as Jewish philosophy and mysticism.
Wearing the tefillin felt inspiring and empowering.
I’m so very happy to have returned to the tribe

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