By: Lea

I wanted to help others and be a good jewish wife.

At age 20 I was in graduate school to become a social worker, and this career was considered very “kosher”. Some rabbis approved my choice, and all I needed was a husband.

A rabbi set me up with a young man at a friends’ wedding. After 2 weeks, my date asked me if I was ready to get engaged. I said I needed more time. A week after that conversation, he proposed.

I said yes.


6 weeks later, he drove halfway across the country to break it off.


I was calm, and I was devastated. I felt both and I felt nothing.

Suddenly, everything that was familiar to me fell apart. My life agenda: grow up, go to college, get married to a torah learning man and have torah learning kids was not happening. I figured I needed to get out of town and go far far away. I booked a flight to Israel, as I had never been there before.

Once I settled myself onto the plane in my long skirt, long sleeves and high collared shirt, I slipped some pajama pants under my skirt. It might seem weird but it felt more comfortable to have pants under my skirt than not at all.

The plane took off and I reached for my siddur (prayerbook) to say tfilas haderech (the prayer for safe travel). At that moment, I realized that I no longer needed to say any prayers. No one was watching me. My whole life I believed I was praying because God is omnipotent and watching me. Once I boarded that plane, though, I realized that all this time,  my perception of God had been “what will my family and community think of me if I disobey the rules?”

I slipped off my skirt, walked to the back of the plane, and flirted with some cute guy who was waiting for the bathroom. Once we landed, I disembarked with his number on my phone and less shackles on me than ever before.