Sefi Dahan

In my previous religious life, praying for me was about technique, but without intention. Heschel changed my attitude in prayer.

Accountant, Founder “Abraham Joshua Heschel in Israel” Facebook Group
Israel
An Israeli Perspective

I grew up in a religious home and studied in Hesder (a program that combines advanced yeshiva study with Army service) in Israel. Most of my friends and family are religious. When I was 27, I stopped being observant and became secular. I stopped keeping shabbat and I moved to Tel Aviv. It was a real break. Five years later or something like that, I went to a bookshop and there was a Heschel book in the front of the shop. This was my first time seeing his name, Heschel. I had never heard about him in my years of yeshiva study, in my life in Israel. This was the first time that I met this man and I fell in love.

Professionally, I am an accountant. My work is not in the area of Jewish study, but I began to study privately. He spoke to what I needed and continue to need. I feel that he is the most important voice for me. As an Israeli, I have both religious and secular friends and they could all learn from Heschel. I created a Facebook group dedicated to Heschel’s thoughts and character.

My connection to Heschel is more private—after I read The Sabbath, I started keeping Shabbat again. In my previous religious life, praying for me was about technique, but without intention. Heschel changed my attitude in prayer. He also opened my mind about other religions. For my entire life, I was told to be against violence, but Heschel gave me the framework and moral clarity for understanding what it means to be against violence.

I see the need to engage Heschel and bring him to the people. While it started in the summer of 2023 with the protests around judicial reform, I see the need even more after October 7. This is time for worship, for humanity, for justice. We need Heschel.

Related Content

Here is this thinker whose words shaped the essence of how I think about Judaism. Rabbi Pamela Barmash, PhD The Eternal Light Interview with Carl Stern March on Selma