I was born and grew up in Israel to Brooklynite parents who made aliyah, and I grew up knowing Hebrew and the chagim, but my immediate family was secular. After my parents divorced and I came to the States I began to get closer to Judaism and Jewish learning. By the age of 26, after years of searching, I started becoming religious, put on my first pair of tefillin, and started down the ba’al teshuva road. I was always fascinated with the Talmud and the profound magic in its pages. When I started yeshiva at Aish HaTorah I began to learn Gemara. Seven and a half years ago I was so invested that I began the Daf Yomi cycle with groups, then a chavruta, then on my own. I marked where I’ve been over the 7 ½-year cycle, from meeting my wife, having kids, working on my Phd, and beginning at RKYHS teaching history. Learning was a wonderful and deep process, which connected me to the tradition and wonderful evolution of Jewish law and thought. My message is that anyone can do this, from any stream of Judaism, male or female, and if you put your mind, body and spirit on the path, anything is possible.
By Daniel Cipriani