Growing up Reform in Baltimore, some of Yaakov’s most treasured memories are of celebrating Shabbat with his family and studying Torah for his Bar Mitzvah.
As an adult, he started looking for deeper spiritual meaning in his life. About five years ago, a friend introduced him to Rabbi Pomeranz. During the pandemic, Rabbi Pomeranz reached out to Yaakov and began meditating with him weekly over the phone. Gradually, these sessions blossomed into deeper Jewish learning, and Yaakov continues to learn with Rabbi Pomeranz every week. “Rabbi Pomeranz has become a good friend,” Yaakov says. “He gives great advice—not just about Judaism, but also for my personal life.”
Etz Chaim has transformed Yaakov's relationship to Judaism. He now studies with five different rabbis each week, including Rabbi Pomeranz. Most Friday nights, you can find him celebrating Shabbat with friends or lighting candles with his family. At every opportunity, he tells others about his Jewish journey and encourages them to learn more. “I’ve been inspired, and I’m trying to inspire others,” he says.
This year, Yaakov spoke at Etz Chaim’s annual Raise the Steaks men’s fundraising event, and he encourages everyone who can to donate to Etz Chaim, or just to come to programs. “There are so many opportunities for people to get involved,” he says. “Etz Chaim makes you appreciate your heritage and get a little closer to Hashem.”