Who is Etz Chaim? Spotlight on Kerri Cohen
Five years ago, when Kerri Cohen called her husband Robert to discuss attending Etz Chaim’s JWRP trip to Israel, neither of them had any idea that their lives were about to change forever. Both successful attorneys, the Cohens were raising their daughter, Lauren, with a strong secular Jewish identity, but had very little connection to Jewish practice. When Robert replied that he was okay with her going to Israel for a week, Kerri said “good, cause I already registered.”
The experience of learning about Judaism in Israel completely blew her away. “It opened up my eyes to a whole new reality. I was home with my people. I had never felt that way about anything before in my life.” The next year she returned to Israel for a second time with JWRP, this time as a staff member, and her husband attended a JWRP trip for men. Kerri has been learning weekly with an Etz Chaim Partner in Torah for the past five years, and since then, the family has begun regularly observing Shabbos. This summer, their daughter, who now goes by her Hebrew name, Dassy, is attending Oorah’s Girl Zone camp, and plans to attend Beis Yaakov for 9th grade in a year.
“We are a different family from who we were on day one," Kerri said. "I can never repay Rabbi Porter and Etz Chaim for the role they have played in my life and the life of my family. I hope everyone can have the experience that I had. It certainly changed our life for the better.”