At 8:30 in the morning, I joined Raphael, who was fixing a cup of coffee for himself in the lounge outside the bet midrash at Pardes. I was glad to have my classes at Pardes each week these past months, and I was glad to see Raphael. He, like my family, was a respite from the eccentric worlds that had attracted me of late. In one respect, these outings were alike. I always found myself more drawn to each religious milieu than I would have anticipated, but in time, a ghoulish threat of being absorbed in alien territory always sent me retreating to the blander and safer ground of home. I had come to count on Raphael to joke and jolt me back into perspective after my zigzags between attraction and repulsion. He wasn’t surprised I found it provocative to watch others leap into faith as I stood riveted to the ground. He understood that it was not sufficient for me to be plodding away at Pardes or basking in Aviva’s presence each week. He understood there was still something else I hungered for, something I couldn’t put my finger on.