As far back as I can remember, I’ve had faith. Faith in the love of my parents, faith that tomorrow brings opportunity, and faith that everything changes. I’ve always had faith that there was a God above and surrounding me. A spirit that was certainly greater than myself or those I trusted. For me, faith is blind…I can’t see nor hear my God but know in my heart that God exists. My prayers will be heard by God and I can rely on God to be present in me when I don’t believe in myself.
Marriage brought me to a whole new level of trust. Over time (45 years of marriage for Jeffrey and I!) our trust, love and respect have only become deeper and more reliable. There have been many tests in our 60+ years of knowing one another. Sometimes my trust was challenged, but God alone brought me back to believing what could be, what could actually happen.
That strong unwavering belief in the spirit and power of God has ushered me into many new chapters in my life. I always thought New York City would be my forever home, but retirement from teaching brought about more questions than I had answers.
Jeffrey and I had been affiliated with the Reform movement since our girls were small. Our Rabbis retired and new ones came to fill big shoes. I didn’t feel God’s presence in the synagogue as I had before. We made a conscious decision to find a new spiritual home. One event led to another as we decided to investigate our options online. The lifestyle we desired in retirement needed serious revamping. That’s when we started looking outside NYC, our comfort zone, and took a giant leap – a leap of faith!
I knew what I wanted…a spiritual home, a place with opportunities to quench my thirst to learn and comprehend Judaism and the God that brought me both comfort and sorrow. I wanted to volunteer, remain active in body and mind, and follow my passion for people and the arts. But most importantly, I wanted to find my new Temple. It would be a tall order to find such a treasure.
Our search led us to Charlotte, and Temple Beth El. At the time, Temple was transitioning their Rabbinical staff. We had read all we could find online, but a visit would determine if Temple was our target. After many phone calls gathering information, we finally made our first trip to Charlotte. If what was shared about Temple and the congregation was true, Charlotte would be our new home city.
Within a week, we had begun referring to Temple Beth El as our home, found a house and begun to pack. Belief in God and my trust in Jeffrey led me to this place. To find home…even without our family and without our friends. If that’s not a leap of faith, I don’t know what is!
Janette Schwartz, a retired teacher, moved with Jeffrey, to Charlotte two years ago. She immediately became involved and active at Temple Beth El, particularly as Co-Chair of the Baby Boomer/Empty Nester TriBE initiative.