Kamy: My wife, Karine, and I were married in May of 2015. Her family is from Morocco, but she was born in Eretz Yisrael and raised in Montreal. We settled in Great Neck, which has a large Persian community. I found an excellent job in real estate management, and Karine became a beloved primary-school teacher, a calling that gave her tremendous satisfaction. Life was good.
Like all young couples, we davened and looked forward to raising a large, happy family. And indeed, several months after our marriage, we learned, to our great joy, that we were to become parents. The first 12 weeks of Karine’s pregnancy were idyllic, but then, during the routine three-month visit, our dreams were dashed when an ultrasound showed that the pregnancy was not viable. There would be no baby born to us.
Karine’s miscarriage was a painful blow, but we fortified ourselves with our emunah, reminding ourselves that what Hashem does is for the best. Certain that we would become parents shortly, we looked at it as a temporary setback
But a year passed, and then another, and our dreams seemed to become more and more distant. We consulted with doctors, but they could find no obvious reason for our struggle.
I had faced hard times before, having been born in 1985 in Iran, barely five years after the 1979 revolution, when life became turbulent for the Jews. But though our life outside was permeated with the ever-present fear of our Muslim neighbors, inside our home things were calm. My three siblings and I were raised by our parents in an oasis of peace and love. We were traditional, though not religious.
By the time I reached my teens, I was desperate to leave Iran. My maternal grandmother and two uncles were living in the US. With the help of HIAS, my sister, who is five years my senior, and I received coveted visas that enabled us to immigrate to Europe. In 2003, when I was just 17, we boarded a flight to Vienna, where my sister and I lived for six months while we waited for our turn to enter the US.
During this time the Viennese frum community surrounded us with warmth and caring, and my sister and I were drawn closer to Yiddishkeit. By the time we landed in New York, we were both fully committed to keeping all the mitzvos.
I was invited to attend Yeshivas Ner Yisrael of Baltimore, where many young Persian immigrants like myself were learning. The bachurim and rebbeim were exceptionally kind and considerate, and I quickly found my place. Soon I was learning Gemara and thriving for the first time in my life.
After a year I left the yeshivah and came to New York to live with my grandmother and an uncle. I found a job working for a chasidic Williamsburg family that owned a jewelry business. I rose in the ranks and became a valued employee. I was content and at peace, though I missed my parents and my other siblings desperately. My mother and one sister still live in Iran; my father passed away three years ago.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I experienced a difficult period in my life during which I grappled with many questions and struggled with my commitment to Torah and mitzvos.
Fortunately, a friend, whom I view as a messenger from Above, connected me with Rabbi Chaim Levy, one of the founders of GoSephardic, a renowned Israel-based organization that connects Sephardic Jews with their heritage. I was invited on a trip to Israel in the winter of 2013, and though I hesitated, the trip proved life-changing.
I spent ten glorious days in Eretz Yisrael, allowing the experience to wash over me and soothe the wounds in my aching soul. I realized how much I was floundering and how I needed to bring Hashem back into my life. I was just like a newborn child who needs its mother. And so, sobbing and pleading with Hashem from the depths of my wounded heart, I reconnected.
After I returned to New York, I remained part of GoSephardic and volunteered at its local base. This brought new life and joy into my soul. It’s also where I met and married my wife, Karine Sarah.
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