“I was born in Pyatigorsk, a resort city in the northern Caucasian mountains.
As a young child, my family moved to Rostov. After college, I landed a job at a local bank. One afternoon, Danny, an old college buddy, walked in. Something looked different about him.
“Have you decided to become a rabbi,” I asked.
Danny smirked. “Why don’t you come join us,” he said. “We’re having an event for young adults at the synagogue. I think you’d enjoy it.”
“What has that got to do with me,” I stubbornly replied. “I’m not Jewish.”
I knew that my grandmother was Jewish, but didn’t know what that had to do with me. Danny continued inviting me to events, but I always declined.
One day, Danny called. “Sasha, I’m getting married and want you at my wedding.”
This time, I couldn’t turn him down.
The wedding took place in a courtyard of an abandoned home that I later learned once served as the residence of the fifth Chabad Rebbe. It was a traditional, religious ceremony. An hour later it seemed to be over, and I head over to the gym. As soon as I hit the treadmill, my phone rang.
“Where are you,” Danny shouted into the phone.
I told him that as soon as the wedding ended, I left.
Danny laughed. “That was just the Chupa,” he explained. “The dinner is happening now at the synagogue. We’re waiting for you.”
Once again, I couldn’t refuse the groom’s invitation. I got back into my suit and drove back. I can not describe the feeling I had when I entered the synagogue for the first time. It was like I was returning home–as if I belonged.
A lot has happened since. Over the past two years, I had a Brit Milah and began using my new Jewish name, Aron. I met a wonderful woman, Elisheva, and asked her to marry me. We hope to move to Israel in the near future.
The irony of the whole story is that today when I meet old friends, they ask me if I’ve decided to become a rabbi. I just smirk.”
Source: Jewish Community of Rostov