I wasn't raised knowing Shabbat or observing it in any way. I also didn't know about kashrut and the idea that certain foods were forbidden to Jews. But, yes, I did know that I was a Jew, whatever that was supposed to mean.
Growing up in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, where upwards of 90% of the people were Jewish, we were like everyone else. We were active members of the Conservative Oakland Jewish Center, and I went to its Hebrew School. Public schools were closed on the High Holidays.
When I was 13, we moved to Great Neck. That was the first time I got to know non-Jews and even had Black classmates. We also joined the Orthodox Great Neck Synagogue. It was there where I became a member of NCSY and became acquainted with Torah-True Judaism.
Rabbi Ephraim Wolf, ZaTz"L, was our rabbi. If it hadn't been for his strong emphasis on youth activities and "kiruv" before it was a code word or priority, I wouldn't be the me I am today. It's Rabbi Wolf's Yartzeit, and want to thank him for what he gave me.
Rabbi Wolf gave me the opportunity to know true Judaism, Shabbat and opened the door to the life I live here in Shiloh. He never pushed, but once we were here in Israel, we began hearing how proud he was. And then when we moved to Shiloh, he'd even mention us in his sermons and visited. There's a tree growing here in Shiloh, which Rabbi Wolf planted on one his visits. The tree overlooks, the entrance, the school, the Mishkan Synagogue and Tel Shiloh. It smiles on Shiloh, like Rabbi Wolf did.
Thank you, Rabbi Wolf.
Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach