The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Shana.

I was brought up in an orthodox home in Monsey NY with a loving family. I had a childhood filled with love, laughter, and support. I was truly a happy child with a lot to give.


When I was only 13 years old my life took a turn due to trauma. I was diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety. I was no longer the same happy go lucky girl. I was angry. I was full of hatred toward Judaism and the school system. I rebelled against anything in my life that I could. I started to put myself in situations that a young girl like myself should not have been in. I turned to drugs and boys, and turned my beautiful simple life upside down.


Time after time, person after person, I was hurt. I lost many friends to the same thing that I turned to, drugs. In hindsight this should have been enough to make me stop. I didn't really know what I was fighting or for what purpose. In the Summer of 2017 I not only went through a hard breakup but I also lost one of my closest friends to an overdose.

Imagine what rock bottom is… I was there. I didn't want to hold myself up, I couldn't fight anymore, I couldn't breathe.

I never imagined my life getting better. I saw no future, yet at that moment, an old friend reached out to me and told me about Jewessence. Two months later, I was there. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the most loving and sweet staff who welcomed me home, talked me through the program and made it very clear it is NOT a seminary :p.


The year was filled with ups and downs. I was battling major depression and anxiety, there were some weeks I could not even get out of bed. The classes were tough, and challenging, but my madrichot and teachers were always there for me. They never gave up on me, they pushed me to get up, go outside, breath in the fresh air and keep trying. I learned what it truly meant to be a Jew. I finally understood that the falsehoods and lies I was taught in school were not reality.


I gained tools to help deal with my depression, to overcome my anxiety, and how to succeed in life. In Jewessence I created a new family who truly loved me, cared for me , and supported me every second of every day and of every night. Staff became my Israel mommas, and my friends , my sisters.

As the year came to an end I began to notice major changes in myself. I was happier, enjoyable to be around, gained a sense of self, and my level of self respect went up.

I never expected that my life could change so much in 8 months. I never expected to be happy again. I never expected to get through the traumas I've lived through. When I arrived back home, thanks to Jewessence, I was changed. I was happy, but I realized that my true happy self was in Israel. In September of 2018, I said goodbye to my family, and made Aliyah. As soon as I arrived, I went straight home and became a Madricha of Jewessense 2019.


Fast forward to today, Sept 6th 2019- It is my one year aliyah-anniversary and I’m sitting in an apartment that I pay for, I am holding down a job, and I've created a network of friends that have become family. I am happy with where my life has taken me, but without Jewessense, I do not know where I would be today.

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