Questioning the Answers, from the notebook of Kayla Haber-Goldstein FFB/BT
I was lucky to meet Kayla at an event that the Uplift Jewish women’s magazine initiated in Los Angeles. We were both surprised at the reception she received from the audience, but let me start at the beginning. I was sent Kayla’s book to review, and before I opened the cover to read what was written inside, I loved the title. As I began to read her story, she intrigued me.
Kayla is the daughter of a well-known Rabbi and her story is not the regular trajectory of a Beis Yaakov girl. Instead, it is one of searching for meaning and discovering for herself what Judaism means to her. Kayla’s questions are not asked in a way that tries to trip up the person she is questioning; instead, her questions are always asked from a place of curiosity and wanting to gain a deeper understanding.
On the night we met, I was showing a film called American Birthright by Becky Tahel Ben David, who appeared in our previous magazine. Becky’s story comes from a totally opposite background and her journey was one of discovering what drew her to Yiddishkeit. After showing this film I opened the floor to questions from the audience, to both of these amazing women, and what amazed me more than anything was how similar their stories and searches actually were.
I think Kayla was surprised at this.
We found so much common ground in the audience on the evening in question and we discussed how teachers, and of course parents, should always treat the questions they are asked with great care. If we want our youth to learn, they must be able to ask even the awkward questions; and if for some reason you can’t find the answer, tell the person, ‘It’s a great question. Let’s look for the answer together.’ Telling a youngster they mustn’t ask that question is a sure way of turning them off our mesorah.
Kayla was raised in a frum home with a regular Beis Yaakov education. She walked the walk and talked the talk, marrying a frum guy and starting their life together with dreams and ambitions. She became pregnant and went on to have a child, and this is when things changed for her. After experiencing a near-death illness and developing post-natal depression, she ended up in a strange place regarding her beliefs and started to question everything she had been taught. This book takes us on her journey of discovery.
Kayla comes across as being very intelligent and inquisitive. I like the way she delves into each question with a thirst for knowledge. I particularly like how she is not questioning in search of reasons not to accept, but instead, she is on a fact-finding mission, taking us, the readers, with her as she discovers a deeper connection with Hashem and His mitzvos.
I recommend this book to anyone seeking a deeper relationship with and understanding of Torah. But if you are searching for proof that rebellion is the way, you will be sorely disappointed.
Available from Mosaica or your local bookshop.