September 1, 2021
Rishon was born in Bombay, India in a traditional, Jewish home. His family moved to Israel when he was a boy, where he lived for 12 years before moving to Canada to study FinTech at Ontario Tech University.
“When I moved to Canada, I struggled with an identity crisis. I didn’t feel connected with any particular group, and it weighed on me in my younger years. There weren’t too many Jewish students with me at school and I felt a need to blend in with my surroundings.”
But eventually, he started feeling a connection with his Jewish heritage.
“I felt a spark. It just started feeling right. And if it feels right, I don’t believe in beating around the bush and wasting time. I started attending Jewish events in the area and asking questions, which I had plenty of, and slowly became more and more knowledgeable and comfortable with Jewish practice
In 2019, he met his future wife, Bat-El, at a Chanukah party. Together, they decided to re-enforce some Jewish practices, like making kiddush Friday nights and keeping Kosher.
“We’ve never missed Kiddush ever since.”
That’s when they met Rabbi Shmuel Neft, Rabbi of the Jewish Rockford Community Center (JRCC), the CYP chapter in Toronto.
“I was leaving the elevator in my downtown office building, and in steps this young Rabbi. So I just gave a quick “boker tov” (Hebrew for “good morning”).”
They decided to start attending the monthly CYP Shabbat programs conducted by Rabbi Shmuel and Esther Neft, and to observe those Shabbat weekends fully.
“From there, it became twice a month, and soon we were completely Shabbat observant!”
Rishon attended the CYP Encounter Shabbatons in Crown Heights in January, and in Guatemala this past May.
“My favorite part of these experiences is the connections that are made. Just bonding with people from all walks of life, having a great time together with people you would never have met otherwise. It’s an extraordinary thing.”
When we ask Rishon what he would say to someone thinking of signing up for a CYP Encounter weekend experience, he doesn’t beat around the bush.
“Don’t think twice. Just do it. You won’t regret it.”