Shuvu Nachas-Gram: Olga Katzman, Shuvu Ashdod


ashdodBy Olga Katzman

When it was something that got them upset, they called it stubbornness; when it was something that made them proud, they called it perseverance. But no matter what, they all say that they saw that streak of determination in me from when I was very young. With the help of Hashem, I think I can say that I was able to channel it to help me grow and succeed in taking on one Mitzva after another.

This time of year, particularly, brings back strong memories. I was nine years old that Rosh Hashanah, the Rosh Hashanah that my mother absolutely insisted that I come along to the beach with her. Knowing how I love to swim, she had made up with some of her friends to meet there with their children because we were all off from school. My mother knew very little about Judaism and had no interest in anything religious. My father is not even Jewish. I had just started school in Shuvu Ashdod and I was totally taken in by all I was taught.

Though I would have been delighted to join almost any other day, I was craving the connection to Hashem that the holy days of Rosh Hashanah had to offer. I had been anticipating the sound of the Shofar and preferred to be praying.

Despite my disappointment, I had no choice, but to go along to the beach. I resolutely sat on my towel and leafed through my Siddur that I had snuck into my bag. Suddenly, I remembered what my teacher had taught about Tashlich. I jubilantly found a quiet area and said the Tefillah of Tashlich with all the passion a nine year old could muster.

In the years that followed, I babysat for months to earn enough money to buy a seat in the Beit Knesset for the Yamim Noraim. That’s what kept me going the entire year! I felt privileged to daven among Talmidei Chachamim and asked Hashem to please help me find a husband who will be like them.

It’s been many years since that first Rosh Hashanah. I was fortunate to marry David Katzman who was learning in Yeshivat Nachlat Haleviim, under Rabbi Weiss, the son-in-law of HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz. We started off in Haifa and now live in Ashdod where he is still learning in Kollel and I teach Special Ed.

Baruch Hashem, I was blessed with an adorable baby boy, so I might not be able to daven in the Beit Knesset on Rosh Hashanah this year. I will take him to hear the Shofar and I will be praying that he inherit some of the determination that got me through the days and years that brought me to where I am today.

P.S. Years ago, when Harav Aron Leib Shteinman heard the story about Tashlich, he said that the whole Shuvu would have been kedai just for this girl.

Shuvu is now celebrating its 25th Anniversary since its founding in 1990 by Moreinu Horav Avrohom Pam, zt”l. Over that period there have been many challenges to overcome, but, also a tremendous amount of nachas as we see Rav Pam’s dreams being fulfilled. is proud to present a weekly series of nachas grams so that you can see for yourself what Shuvu has been able to accomplish.

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