This is the story about a silver plate. It was a trophy I won for finishing in first place at the Harvard National Invitational Speech Tournament when I was a junior in high school. But that wasn't the most special thing about it. Strange as it sounds, that silver plate would come to encapsulate my Jewish spiritual journey. But that would take many more years to discover.
My earliest memories of being Jewish were of my mother tucking me into bed, and saying the Shema with me.
Another big one was when I was six. I learned that after you burp, you're supposed to say, "Excuse me." Later that night, I was sitting alone in our giant pink kitchen, and… I burped. I remember thinking, There's no one here. Am I supposed to say, "Excuse me?"
And then I remembered that G-d is here. So I did.
When I was eight, a neighbour sent us a subscription to "Talks and Tales", the Chabad Children's Magazine. The issues were only a few pages long, printed in black and white on shiny pages, and each one contained a Chassidic Story.
The premise of each was there is a G-d, He loves us, and He is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. I loved them. They changed my life and became the foundation of my Jewish education. (By the way, we are still getting to the silver plate!)
When I was 15, I wanted to start keeping Shabbos. Well, not exactly. What I really wanted to do was to go to shul Saturday mornings. The only problem was that I'd just started competing for my school's Speech Team, and all of the tournaments were held on Shabbos.