Many times people asked, "what inspired you to become a bal teshuva?" they continue, "What gave you the strength at such a young age to decide on such a commitment?".
I never really knew. I myself was unsure, I would answer "hmm I just don't know"
But recently after so long, the dots all connected. I remember when I was at a young tender age of about 7, going to the Israeli March to fund raise for the land of Israel. I was especially connected to Israel because I was born there, living in America I remember making the effort to be part of the fundraising March. Boy was I happy, when after walking for so long finally to arrive at rancho park, to see all the people together reaching our destination as if we really were landing in the holy land. Although feeling a bit tired I was ever so exhilarated and thrilled that I had raised money for Israel. Then there were the smells of Israeli food, falafel and shawarma - but the excitement didn't stop there -what was more enticing were the many different booths to inspire people to get closer to Judaism. I remember the first booth I stopped at- gazing at those shiny Golden miniature candlesticks, I remember wanting to own one.
I dared to get closer to the man dressed in a black suit with a black hat, I was cautious and hesitant because I didn't want to see what could not be mine. I didn't want to be disappointment (because I didn't have money to by such a high commodity). As I got closer, the man reached out his hand and said "This is for you". I thought to myself "for free?" I was shocked and I thought for sure it must have been a mistake, but then I saw him giving out more to other girls. I kept thinking, "wow, what a nice man".
I remember feeling so privileged to have received the golden candle sticks and guarded them the whole day. The Fair was over and the countdown began, I couldn't wait till Friday to arrive when I would be able to finally light them.
Every day felt like forever until that holy day came. The intense feeling I felt that day of the march finally bridged over to Shabbos itself. I felt so serene and so connected to Israel and to my people. Miraculously I somehow started to get invited to different religious peoples' homes to celebrate Shabbos fully.
The joy and warmth at the Shabbos table, just solidified my love for Shabbos, for Judaism. Receiving those bright shinning Shabbos candles started it all.
Thank you Lubavitcher Rebbe, for sending your Shluchim to ranch park.
Thank you Rebbe, for caring that I, as a little girl, would have a chance to get ignited.
It was the flame of these Shabbos lights that ignited the flame of my soul!
You can also find this article on 'weebly' https://miriamyerushalmi.weebly.com/articles-and-blog/my-candle-light-story