Graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in English, I took the only practical course open to me and began hitchhiking across the United States. Returning home after five months, my resolve to enroll in a graduate program for social work gave way before a recurrent bout of travel fever, and I set out to backpack across Europe, intending to continue on to Africa and Australia, and to revisit Asia as a follow-up to my previous trip around the world. (But that’s another story.)
Half-a-year in Europe left me burned out on travel and psychologically drained, so I crossed the Mediterranean for the Land of Israel, supposing I would occupy myself picking oranges on a kibbutz before returning to the road. You can read about some of it here.
A strong dollar had given a few million other American youths a similar idea, and there wasn’t a spot on any kibbutz to be found. With dwindling funds and a weary constitution, I took the first opportunity that presented itself: yeshiva.
It took Rabbi Dovid Gottleib two months to convince me that the Torah had indeed been handed down from Sinai. It took me nearly nine years to begin to learn the language, begin to study the accumulated wisdom of 3300 years, begin to familiarize myself with the ins and outs of Jewish law and practice, start a family, and acquire the most rudimentary qualifications to teach Torah to others. I describe the influence of my background in literature on my transformation to Torah observance here.
A year in Budapest, Hungary, followed, then two years in Atlanta, Georgia. You can get a taste of Hungary here.
My family now lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where I teach Torah at Block Yeshiva High School. My writings can be found frequently at jewishworldreview.com, aish.com, and beyondbt.com, and occasionally in the Jewish Observer, HaModia, and Jewish Action. For several years I was a regular columnist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and an irregular contributor to the Baltimore Sun.
When unencumbered by the responsibilities of my day-job, I can be found as an adult lecturer on contemporary issues, parenting, education, and Jewish philosophy. I have also served as a guest scholar-in-residence and a ba’al tefillah (or chazzan) for the High Holidays. Sample programs for Shabbatonim or Scholar-in-residence weekends can be viewed here.
Interested parties can contact me at torahideals [at] att.net.
To be added to my mailing list, send an email to torahideals-subscribe [at] yahoogroups.com.