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Home » Bar & Bat Mitzvah » In response to Trisha Arlin’s “Whose Torah?”, by Anita Silvert aka: Jewish Gems

In response to Trisha Arlin’s “Whose Torah?”, by Anita Silvert aka: Jewish Gems


Like Trisha, I first had to lose Torah to find it. Fifth year of Hebrew school, four days a week, and suddenly, the boys in my class were herded off to continue learning….and we girls were left behind to learn how to be a Jewish wife and mother, skills I didn’t need for another 20 years, if it can be said I ever mastered them in any way.


So, clearly, if Torah was going to be mine again, I was going to have to get it for myself. It took most of those 20 years. Because, although youth group, singing, song leading and family practice gave me something, it didn’t give me enough.

In college, I was a voice major at U of Iowa. Truly, singing was the only thing anyone ever told me I could do well. So, with a career choice that work around my eventual children, I set out to be a music teacher.

Vocal nodules got in the way. “You’ll never be a singer,” said the doctors and my voice teachers. I stubbornly continued. Nodules went away, then came back. “You’ll never be a singer,” they said again, “pick something else.” I had no idea what that would be. So I graduated knowing I’ll never be a singer.

My Hillel/town rabbi, Jeff Portman asked me to teach Sunday school. I did. I liked it. He said I was good at it. He said, “Come with me and some other teachers to a teachers’ conference in the Quad Cities.” I did. I decided to get a Masters in Jewish Education right then and there.

I had no hours in Jewish studies, much less a major or minor in it. Boldly, I applied for Spertus’ Masters program. And there I met David Weinstein z”l and Byron Sherwin and Rabbi Goldman z”l and Rachel Dulin. It took a while, but I soaked up as much as I could, and then they gave me a piece of paper. I couldn’t make a living. So I left for another 20 years. But I wanted to find a way back….and I did, through Peter Pitzele. Bibliodrama. The heavens open, the angels sang, and I was thunderstruck. Cosmic click.

Now I had Torah, it was mine to mine and share for years to come. And I haven’t looked back. By the way, I am a singer. They were all wrong in so many ways.


Let’s keep the conversation going: What is your story? Have you lost Torah? Found it? Explored it? And, Whose Torah Is It Anyway?

More of Anita‘s writing can be found on her blog: Jewish Gems


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