Sunset Views

Personal Story 

Jonathan Leiman

As a teenager in suburban Washington, DC, Jonathan was very involved in the local chapter of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) and celebrated Shabbat and holidays with his family, which he describes as “traditional but not observant.”

However, during his college years at Cornell University, Jonathan wasn’t involved in Jewish life, preferring to travel and explore other interests. After graduation, he found himself missing the joys of Jewish community and tradition, but wasn’t sure how to find his way back. When he met his wife, the pair bonded over their love for Israel and their curios

ity about exploring Judaism.

Jonathan and his wife chose to move to Baltimore largely because of the cohesion and warmth of the local Jewish community. Through a friend who is a rabbi in Israel, Jonathan connected with Etz Chaim’s Rabbi Pomeranz, whom Jonathan now considers a friend. Jonathan began regularly attending Sunday morning classes with Rabbi Porter, and Torah Judaism became an ever-more-important part of his family’s life. Jonathan’s regular conversations with Rabbi Pomeranz inspired him to start putting

on tefillin during his morning prayers, a tradition he finds particularly meaningful.

“My family and I owe a lot to Etz Chaim,” Jonathan says. “I’ve really been able to absorb Judaism into my life with the help of Rabbi Zev, Rabbi Porter, and the friends I’ve made. It’s been an amazing gift.”

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Danielle Kasoff

Meet Etz Chaim’s Participants: Danielle Kassof Danielle Kasoff grew up in Howard County and went to undergrad in University of Michigan where she majored in Pre-Med and Women’s Studies. She then moved