Rabbi Josh Stein grew up in a traditional home in Richmond Hill, and after attending USDS (conservative day school) he attended a public high school called Thornlea SS. It wasn’t long until he met an orthodox Rabbi who worked for NCSY that inspired him to learn more about his identity. Meanwhile Laura Stein (nee Tepperman) would do the same at Westmount CI in Thornhill, she decided in grade 12 to take a course called Torah High and every Wednesday with a group of her friends they would go to this class and learn about the most rudimentary topics in Judaism. As the year progressed, both Josh and Laura separately grew more interested in what it meant to be a Jew. At the year’s end each of them individually discussed the idea of taking a year abroad to attend Yeshiva and Seminary in Israel. That is where this story really begins…
Josh decided that he would go to a Yeshiva in Israel. It was there he met some of the most incredible Rabbiem who took the time and patience to teach him the basic foundations of being a Jew . There was a point where Josh would argue his dream of becoming a conservative Rabbi, and over several months of discussion his views changed and led him to pursue his Jewish education further. He then transferred to a Yeshiva that catered to his higher level of understanding, that now allowed him to delve deeper into developing his Jewish identity. It wasn’t long after that Josh felt it was time to settle down and start a family. It didn’t take long for Josh to meet his aishes chayil, who was set up by the very same Rabbi from NCSY that sent the two of them to Israel just a few years earlier.
Laura decided before committing herself to a year in seminary would check out Israel with birthright. She quickly learned on that trip that Israel was much more than she imagined it to be. When they went to the Kotel she felt this sense of certainty, it was an emotional connection that she could not ignore. She applied to a seminary that was beginning its inaugural year called Machon Ma’ayan. This decision began in an experiential journey that would lead Laura to immerse herself in a world of Judaism and Torah. At the time she did not think she wanted to become a religious person and was frustrated because of her lack of knowledge. Majority of the girls attending the program came from orthodox homes, and she did not. Laura paralleled Avarham Avinu by being the only student coming from a secular background while the rest of her peers had a more structured upbringing. She spent 2 years learning at this seminary and then decided to pursue a degree at Touro (Landers College for Women). While Laura was in New York she quickly found her self returning to Israel to finish her degree and begin her next step in starting a Jewish Family.
It wasn’t long before Josh and Laura crossed paths and were married in Israel and looked for ways to give back to klal Yisroel. Josh undertook a semicha and community leadership program and was ordained a Rabbi by the Rabbinate of Jerusalem. In the circle of events Rabbi Josh and Laura took a job with NCSY in Vancouver and now Toronto and are both eagerly looking forward to directing a bus on this summers TJJ. Laura, a veteran of TJJ, having staffed two trips in the past is exuberant to be able to continue her passion in molding the next Jewish generation. TJJ is a life changing experience that allows you to make life time friends and facilitates your discovery of what it means to be a Jew.