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SEO: Rachel Beckman swaps law school for Israeli Orthodox life

Rachel Beckman felt newly inspired and connected to Judaism during her first trip to
Israel in 2012. When she visited again after graduating from University of Michigan in
2014, Beckman decided to defer her acceptance to law school to live in Jerusalem for one
year and further pursue her religious beliefs.

When home isnt where the heart is

Rachel Beckman puts off law school, practices Orthodox Judaism in Israel
When asked what she wanted to do with her life, Rachel Beckman always had the
same answer. I want to go to law school and eventually change the world, she said
countless times to family, friends, and professors. Beckman never imagined herself
deviating from her calculated life plan until the summer after her graduation from
University of Michigan in 2014, when she reached a spiritual crossroads and decided to
move to Israel for a year to explore her religious beliefs.
Before Beckman signed up for a MEOR birthright trip for summer 2012, Judaism
was a part of her identity and culture, but not an integral part. She attended Hebrew
reform school, but hardly went to Temple or celebrated the high Jewish holidays after she
began college in 2010. Beckman never understood why some of her friends signed up to
take Maimonides, a three-hour course about Judaism, after a long day of college classes.
Melissa Haworth, A#3 Mainbar P. 2

When my friend Mel asked me to come with her on a birthright trip, I said sure
because I wanted to travel around Israel and thought it would be fun, Beckman said. I
never thought that three week trip would change my life for the better.
Experiencing Israel for the first time
Beckman was surprised upon her arrival in Israel to find there was an educational
component to her trip she thought she was only going to travel. During the educational
section, Beckman learned about Orthodox Judaism and felt immediately inspired. I had
never encountered a set of values full of so much meaning, Beckman said. I realized
Judaism is an intellectual religion that encourages questions and emphasizes morality.
With her newfound spirituality in tow, Beckman traveled to several different cities
in Israel and fell in love with her surroundings. Its the most beautiful place in the
world, Beckman said, especially on Saturdays, when everything is calm and quiet for
Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
Despite her love for Israel and her evolving religious beliefs, 20-year-old
Beckman had no intentions of making a drastic lifestyle change. At the time, I thought
it was nice to learn about, but it wasnt something I could see being a part of my life,
Beckman said of Orthodox Judaism.


Melissa Haworth, A#3 Mainbar P. 3

When she returned to Ann Arbor in the fall for her junior year, Beckman
registered for Maimonides and made friends with other students who were interested in
delving deeper into Judaism. Slowly, Beckman made changes in her life to accommodate
her religious interests. I started celebrating Shabbat dinner on Friday nights instead of
going to the bar with my friends, Beckman said. I never imagined I would choose to
do something religious instead of something recreational, but it felt rewarding. In the
back of her mind, Beckman started to recognize a deep desire to understand what it
would mean to bring Orthodox Judaism into
her life.
Beckman studied abroad in Florence

I applied to a bunch of law

schools but decided that Michigan

was the best fit for me. What can I
say? I love Ann Arbor. Rachel

during spring of 2013 and spent that summer preparing for the LSATs, all while staying
devoted to her religious beliefs. During fall of 2013, Beckman received her acceptance to
the University of Michigan School of Law, a gratifying accomplishment she felt she
earned. She would start law school in the fall, but decided to take another trip to Israel
that summer for more educational experience.
A tough decision
During those three weeks in Israel, Beckman felt conflicted internally. Law
school was her lifelong dream, but in Israel, Beckman felt at home. I thought to myself:
If I dont take the time now, when will I figure out what Judaism means to me?
Beckman said. [Judaism] clearly sparked something inside of me that felt true and
meaningful. It was at this point that Beckman decided to defer her acceptance to law
school for a year and live in Jerusalem to practice Orthodox Judaism.


Melissa Haworth, A#3 Mainbar P. 4

Beckmans choice to stay in Israel was the most important decision she ever
made. Her mother, maternal grandmother and all of her friends supported her decision
and were proud that Beckman was pursuing something so important to her. Her father,
however, had reservations. My dad thinks Im being extreme and listening to what other
people are telling me to do, but that couldnt be farther from the truth, Beckman said.
Every choice Ive made on this journey has been from my heartIve thought
everything through.

A timeline of Rachel Beckmans religious journey

Infographic by Melissa Haworth


Melissa Haworth, A#3 Mainbar P. 5

Beckman made her decision to stay in Israel almost nine months ago, and today
she stands by her beliefs. She spends her time in Jerusalem studying Judaism and trying
to thresh out all of the important questions she has. Beckmans beliefs have solidified
since she began her intensive studies, and she is devoted to a God-centered life.
Orthodox Judaism resonates with me as an objective truth about how to live the most
authentic life possible, Beckman said. Im so glad I took this opportunity to come to
my own individual conclusions about Judaism that I can keep with me moving forward.
Beckman returns from Israel in June, and she looks toward the future with
excitement. She will continue practicing Orthodox Judaism and begin studying law to
work toward the career she always wanted. This experience has changed me for the
better and given my life so much more meaning, Beckman said. Ive always wanted to
change the world, but I never would have been able to do it without the set of beliefs that
I now hold so close to my heart.

Melissa Haworth
W/R #10 TA #2
April 28, 2015
A#3: Sidebar

SEO: Rachel Beckman adjusts to life in Israel

Rachel Beckman notices lifestyle differences between Israel, America
Rachel Beckman visited Israel for the first time on a birthright trip and felt so
inspired, she returned after college and decided to stay for one year to study Orthodox
Judaism. Beckman put off her plans to go to law school to figure out what Judaism means
to her and what role it will play in her life. She moved to Israel in September of 2014 to
explore her beliefs and experienced a drastic cultural adjustment to the lifestyle of the
Orthodox Israeli people.
In Israel, the workweek begins on Sunday and Friday is a half-day because
everyone prepares for Shabbat dinner. This was one of the hardest things to get used
to, Beckman said. Sundays were always the days I would lie around and do nothing in
America. Beckman also adjusted to long days of religious studies. Her typical day lasts
from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Luckily, Beckman did not have to adjust to a language barrier. I was surprised to
find that the majority of people here speak English, Beckman said. I get by only
knowing a few Hebrew phrases.


Melissa Haworth, A#3 Sidebar P. 2

In Jerusalem particularly, Beckman noticed that children become independent at a

very young age. It was shocking at first, Beckman said. I would see children crossing
the street or riding on the bus alone at a much younger age than you would in the States.
This concerned Beckman, who said that security is a pressing issue in certain areas of
Despite the minor culture shock, Beckmans time in Israel has changed her life for
the better and brought her closer to a set of beliefs that give her life new meaning. The
only complaint I have is that theres no iced coffee in Israel, Beckman said. Sometimes
I just really need a Starbucks iced coffee!


Home page: Rachel Beckman: American student living Orthodox

Home page would

include this photo of
Beckman and her
friends in the Negev
Desert in Israel. The tab
labels would be between
the website title and the
Tab labels: Bio,
Timeline, Lifestyle,
Learn more

Photo source: Rachel Beckman


Rachel Beckman grew up on

Long Island, NY and studied
Psychology at University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor. After
spending three weeks in Israel
during summer of 2012 following
her sophomore year, Beckman
felt connected to Judaism in a
way she never did before. She
returned to Ann Arbor for her
junior year and immersed herself
in the Jewish community on
campus. She was accepted to
the prestigious University of
Michigan Law School during fall
of her senior year. After her
graduation in spring of 2014,
Beckman returned to Israel,
where she was reunited with the
sense of inspiration and
belonging she felt two years
prior. It was on this trip that
Beckman decided to defer her
acceptance to law school and
deviate from her life plan.
Beckman adopted the Orthodox
lifestyle and spent one year in
Israel exploring her religious


First Tab: BIO BOX

Accompanying photo:

Photo Source: Rachel


Second Tab: Timeline

While I was in Israel during those 3 weeks after

Second Tab: Quote
graduation it really hit me -- If I don't take the time under timeline
off now, when the timing is so opportune and
feasible, when will I figure out what Judaism
really means to me?
-Rachel Beckman


Transitioning from Wolverine

life to Orthodox Life: A

Lifestyle changes:
o Public transportation is crucial
in Israel
o Israelis have more aggressive
personalities than Americans
o Sunday is a work day, Friday
is a half day
o Workdays are long (8:30 a.m.
till 6:30 p.m.)
o Kids become independent at
a very young age they cross
the street, take buses alone
earlier than American children
o Security is a greater concern
in Israel, Beckman stays away
from certain areas in
Personal Changes
o Beckman keeps a kosher diet
o Beckman dresses
conservatively in long skirts,
Fun Facts
o Iced coffee does not exist in


Third Tab: Lifestyle

Fact box
Accompanying photo:

Rachel and friends picking

lemons in a field outside of
Photo source: Rachel

MEOR: Jewish Leadership Organization
that offers educational courses and
opportunities to travel to Israel, like
Beckmans MEOR Vision trip in 2014.

Click here to visit Rachel Beckmans

Facebook Page.



Fourth Tab: Learn