What is very special about Congregation Beth Israel is that it is a welcoming and friendly community, but at the same time, there is a sense of seriousness that you can notice immediately as you enter the building. At CBI, people of all degrees of observance are included and at the same time, at the core of the community, the highest standards and values of modern orthodoxy are being kept by the keepers. That is a remarkable combination.

I grew up in a secular home in Tehran, and was introduced to Judaism in my early thirties. My interest in Judaism was at first purely intellectual and sparked by curiosity. Then in my late thirties, when I felt the need for some kind of spirituality as an anchor in my life, I knew that for me it had to be the Jewish path.

When the yearning to adopt Judaism grew bigger in my heart, an angel introduced me to Rabbi Cohen. I started going to Rabbi Cohen’s classes, and I was immediately hooked. The Thursday morning classes back in 2012 were the highlight of my weeks, and soon Kabbalat Shabbat services at CBI became my weekly routine.

The combination of having many different learning opportunities, being surrounded by really amazing people, and having a solid place for my spiritual growth has made CBI my spiritual home. Rabbi Cohen and Maharat Victoria have played a big role in my personal life with their generous emotional support and wisdom.

As a single woman who adopted Judaism, I have always felt at home in CBI, and I truly feel that the CBI community is my family. When Leslie Valas was president of the shul I received a call from her saying that Rabbi Cohen suggested I become a board member. My answer was “I don’t know if I have something to offer, but if Rabbi Cohen thinks I should join, then I will.” That is how I had the honor to become part of the board for two years and learn how this very special community is being managed and cared for.

I am forever grateful that my falling in love with Judaism took me to CBI and that CBI helped that love to grow deeper and stronger in my heart.