University of New South Wales, BA Media Studies; LLb Law
Jonathan’s grandparents, after leaving various communities in the Pale of Settlement and then sojourning in Scotland, eventually emigrated to Sydney, Australia. His was a typical Australian traditional Jewish upbringing – Shabbat dinner with the family; kosher-style home; Bar Mitzvah in an Orthodox shul; Jewish primary and secondary schools. But with no compelling spiritual reason to observe the mitzvot.
After completing his law degree, Jonathan travelled for two years in Europe and Morocco, ending his trip with a six-month stint in a kibbutz in Israel. Because of his traditional background he sought out Jewish communities wherever he travelled – even in Morocco, where he got invitations for many Shabbat meals from local families. This Shabbat hospitality was a source of fond memories for many years to come.
Back “down under” he got a job as a law clerk for a judge, and then worked for a year as a public defender of Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory of Australia – the Outback — where miles of empty desert seldom saw a white man and probably never a pair of tefillin before Jonathan arrived.
The Aboriginal People, former hunters and gatherers living in a hostile physical environment, developed a highly intricate spiritual life. Perhaps this impelled Jonathan to turn back to his roots and seek out his spiritual destiny. He quit his job and came to Israel and yeshiva for a few months, but wasn’t yet ready to make a serious commitment. He returned again to Australia and worked in Aboriginal Legal Aid, and later as a criminal lawyer in a private law firm and a lecturer at local universities.
In 2011 he made a decision to change his life and keep the mitzvot. He moved back to Israel and entered Ohr Somayach and has been learning ever since. In 2013 he married a young lady from Oklahoma who was studying at a seminary in Jerusalem. In 2014 their daughter Chana Esther was born. The family lives in Har Nof.
He has been in Rabbi Yitzchak Dalah’s shiur since after Pesach of last year. “I find the shiur very challenging, very dynamic and with huge room for growth, “says Jonathan. “I came to Ohr Somayach because of the high quality of the rebbeim, the guys and the mix of the “ffbs” and ba’alei teshuva – each side has something to learn from the other. I had high expectations that have happily been met.”