Nominated and written by Lieba Brownstein, NCSY Alumna
I am sitting here a very frum girl I like to think, post shana alef, post shana bet and thank G-d I have a team of people that got me to this point. But I can never thank Rina Olivestone enough for what she did for me in my life. She got me to this place and helped me keep fighting no matter what.
I was this kid from public school in Portland, Oregon and was used to playing sports on Shabbos and going to Shul in a Church and then when I wanted to do something religious it was reading Torah or putting on my tallis. Somehow I found my way on an NCSY shabbaton (great story in itself) and I remember sitting down on shabbos afternoon crying to Rina that I was inspired. I had never in my life felt inspired before let alone from something Jewish. I had no idea where to put these feelings or anything like that. I told her I don’t know what all this is but I want to be frum. I want to feel like I do right now every day. I want to keep Torah and Mitzvos.
Rina did the impossible. She taught me how to hold on to the inspiration and helped me follow my dream. She said “Lieba, you may not be able to completely change your lifestyle right now but we can learn together how.” One line and she invested herself in my journey. We started a chavrusah. We started learning once a week and from that I started having 17 chavrusahs a week on my own time by the end of high school. She was right I could not completely change my lifestyle, but boy oh boy did I start learning. When I was ready to put the skirt over my softball uniform at School or walk the 9 miles to shul or wake up early and daven, I knew I was making the right choices.
Rina believed in me and she was there for me every step of the way. Every question. Every struggle. She wanted to see me grow as much as I wanted this for myself and the most beautiful part is she still years later wants this for me. She taught me what emes is and for that I am forever grateful.
Rina Olivestone is one of the most special people you will ever meet and for this very reason she deserves recognition.