MORRISTOWN, NJ — A decade ago, you wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing Yaakov Parisi among a pack of yeshiva students. He was an evangelical pastor back then, in charge of a church in Oklahoma, completely unaware of the complexity and beauty of Jewish law.
Nevertheless, Parisi ñ who converted to Judaism several years ago in front of a Denver rabbinic court now lives in Jerusalem ñ was one of the star pupils this month during a 10-day yeshiva immersion program at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J.
And while Parisi came specifically to share his story to the 90 other full-time college students and professionals who took part in the program, Rabbi Boruch Hecht revealed that “everyone comes with a story.”
Hecht, director of the 10h annual program at the rabbinical college ñ which houses two full-time Chabad-Lubavitch yeshivas on a wooded campus in the northwestern part of the state ñ said that people are attracted to the winter session because it offers in-depth learning among pupils who have not necessarily been raised religious.