Against All Odds, Andrea Returned
My name is Andrea Cohen i live in Israel now after experiencing a huge miracle 5 years ago, that I'd really love to share with you.
I've returned to Judaism to my family's complete surprise after 500+ years of secrecy. My family is from Sicily and believed we were faithful typical Sicilian Catholic Americans, I was born and raised in New York like a typical Sicilian American girl despite my unhealthy obsession with the holocaust, and reading the Bible on Saturday morning as a little girl.
Womanhood took over, forgetting all that, moving on to flight attendant training in Daytona beach Florida where I met and fell in love with a secular Israeli Cohen. Thanks to our forbidden civil marriage at the time, and birth of our son, I contemplated how to raise our child, questioning my own "faith:" finding i was raised in a false religion, and very quickly realizing my foremothers were quite possibly Jewish. Many signs brought me to that idea. I wanted to be a Jew. I explained that to my husband and he explained a Cohen cannot marry a convert. This put me in a jam.
I wanted to live my life as a Jew and raise my children as such, and quite possibly was about to divorce him in order to end our forbidden marriage and go on my way to becoming a Jew. I wasn't so sure Hashem would give me such a hard test.
Either way I prayed and cried out loud with heavy tears To Hashem that if my suspicions of being Jewish were real to please provide me with proof and fast so I would know what to do. After all, the reasons I married my husband was for his G-d fearing , Torah loving, spiritual qualities, despite his outward secular lifestyle at the time. He was observant in many areas such as kashrut, tefillin, observing Shabbat in certain ways, and these had become very dear to me and I felt at home with these observances. So I was bent on finding if we are Jewish, which of course my grandmother denied. Despite the signs I showed her that we are different. She unfortunately didn't know the certain things she did were Jewish rituals, she felt they were just Sicilian rituals, she told me, no way she's happy she's not a Jew, because everyone's always trying to kill the Jew's, and never to forget it.!
Anyhow trying to make a long story short, through a Chabad rabbi in Rome we were connected to a Jewish man, an expert archivist, Jewish genealogist, who traveled to Bronte Sicily, and unearthed 11 generations of fore mothers, a family tree, mother to daughter, in the basement of the church archives, the only records that survived the fires of this town in Sicily that sits at the foot of one of the world's most active volcanoes.
These records connected me to families that were proven Jews that were tried tested and taxed during inquisition times. He helped put together all of my evidences . Photocopies of records, plus his own expertise on the matter which I then went on to present to countless batei din over the course of 4 years, birth of a second son, rejection from the Jewish community+ family, friends...finally by miracle through my husband's family brought my case to the Bet Din HaGadol in Jerusalem, where the head of the Bet Din, the Av Bet Din, sat on my case investigating it, and presented it to the Bet Din who then accepted me to return to Judaism without conversion, and gave me permission to marry my Husband, a Cohen, and his status remained as a Cohen.
It was such a big miracle we almost died from the pain of the process and then again from the shock of yes after the whole world told me I wasn't Jewish and told us we would never be allowed to marry. But It was all G-ds plan, and we made it, Baruch Hashem, throughout this process we both became completely observant, my husband was my teacher, and we both very quickly returned to Judaism, together, in the merit of this struggle, that strengthened our faith so strong that it should never again be lost.
Baruch Hashem I'm here in Israel now where the journey never ends! Baruch Hashem, we were brought close to Chabad and have a wonderful community we live with now, with great Rabbis and rebbetzins who continue to help us grow, and now have a lovely growing family with 4 little sweet children . Thanks for taking the time for reading my story ( ......to be continued)"