By Alitza Joy Adler
I would like to share with you the story of how I feel that G-d’s hand has been ever present in my life. As a young girl, I absolutely loved it when my mother would read to me Bible stories each night from an old, dilapidated storybook. My favorite of all was the Exodus from Egypt.
One day we went to a small bookstore, and my mother purchased a vinyl record with a dramatization of the Exodus story. I still have it to this day and enjoy it very much; it’s still my favorite story. Because of that record, I had a repeating question in my mind: How can I be one of those Israelites? You see, I was not raised Jewish, and this question was on my mind as a child well before I chose Judaism as an adult.
I think that the story was significant to me for reasons unknown to me at the time, but later on in life it began to make complete sense. My mother was good friends with a Jewish girl growing up and she shared with me memories of going to her friend’s home to play and eat dinner and even remembered the prayers said at their table. I grew up in a home that was very Judeo like. I think both of my parents were careful to make connections to the roots of their beliefs and practices, those roots being in what they called the “Old Testament” — what I know now as the Torah.
Moving forward to when I was a young, single adult, while I was out on my family’s farm in Ohio, my dad was pulling the big haywagon behind his tractor up a very steep hill to the top where our apple orchard was located. My mother and I were riding on the wagon when it came unhitched, and we quickly jumped off!
I don’t know why, but my dad ran to grab the hitch, which had poked into the ground and stopped the wagon. But when he picked the hitch up, the wagon rolled, pitched him through the air and then rolled on top of him! I ran over and I remember my dad pleading that I lift the wagon so that he could slide his leg out from under the wheel.
I called out to G-d for help. Just a simple, fast plea, “Oh G-d help me!” and pushed up along with my mother (with a lot of adrenaline flowing for sure), and we were somehow able to lift that heavy wagon so that he could slide his leg out. My parents and I were flustered afterwards, mostly concerned for dad’s leg which was only bruised! We spoke about it being crazy; we were so thankful no one was badly hurt or worse, and we realized that it had to be His hand of protection. But I couldn’t help but think about that big, heavy wagon made of pieces of steel and thick lumber and bolts and big wheels…
The next day I went out to that wagon and was standing there thinking about all that had happened, and I knew without a doubt that I had Hashem’s help. A moment that I feared for my dad’s life was turned around into something beautiful.
It wasn’t long after that, my dad shared with me some of the things that he was reading and questioning in his own mind, and he is the one who got me to looking at Israel and considering the Jewish people and their ways.
My dad was a very gentle, calm, balanced man, and I’ve always admired him for that. Throughout my adulthood he talked to me many times about his thoughts, and I think that he would always present them to me as questions so that I would seek my own answers. And I did. For example, if there were 12 tribes, there had to be descendants of those tribes. And if G-d wanted to bring his people, grafted together with Judah as prophesied in Ezekiel, where are they, how will it happen and when? Could I be one of the ingathered?
Eventually, I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to look more closely at the Jewish people. I had to ask them questions, and I truly believe that Hashem guided my life so that I ended up where I am today.
I am a soul that was tucked away in a faraway corner on a farm needing to be sparked. There have been several instances in my life where I’ve had close calls and I cried out to G-d for help and I was saved by a hair’s breadth, and looking back at those situations I can see that Hashem answered my prayer in an instant and protected my life.
I think that it strengthened my belief/faith to pray to Hashem and to know that he hears. Today I have a deeper understanding of prayer, because so much of Jewish life is prayer. When you read accounts of various individuals during the ancient history of our people in the Chumash, you will see the accounts of their conversations with HaShem.
And of course, King David wrote his prayers down, as did various rabbis only centuries ago. They were comfortable and accustomed to having constant contact with the Creator. I recently finished reading a small booklet about hitbodedut — secluded meditation with G-d. It was so inspiring and confirmed what I think I had known even since I was very young. That I do have a connection with HaShem and that through my voice I can reach out to Him just like so very many before me.
Alitza (Joy) Adler, born in Ohio, lives with her family in Jacksonville. She works for a clinic serving patients with eating disorders. Her passions include healthy eating, gardening, essential oils, and plant-based whole nutrition with Melaleuca. She has two children and loves spending as much time as possible being active outdoors.