Arielle Messafi grew up in a traditional Jewish family in Baltimore County. She attended the Beth Tfiloh day school and enjoyed celebrating holidays and Shabbat with her family. In college, Arielle was active in Hillel and Challah for Hunger. She also pursued Jewish education through Efy Flamm’s highly regarded Kollel and Kollel Plus classes.
After graduation, Arielle connected with Chana Grove, who recommended that she join the J-Care Fellowship program at Etz Chaim. Arielle went on J-Care’s Israel trip in June 2018 and has been involved ever since.
It would be no exaggeration to say that J-Care changed Arielle’s life. She made many close friends and started chavrusa learning. Although she had always enjoyed family Shabbat dinners, Arielle now observes Shabbat according to halacha. The pandemic hasn’t slowed her down—she goes on socially distanced “Pirkei Avot learning hikes” and participates in regular parsha learning with friends over Zoom.
“Etz Chaim has opened so many doors for me,” Arielle says. “It gave me so many opportunities to connect to Judaism and learn more about myself and how I want to practice Judaism. Without Etz Chaim, it would have been much harder to get to where I am today.”