'Many times I feel connected to God'

By CHRIS ZUPPA, Times Photographer
Published March 5, 2008

On a blustery afternoon at Ben T. Davis Beach, Raquel Silberman wades into Tampa Bay carrying a cookie sheet, a cake pan and other new cookware.

The 34-year-old mother of four grew up Catholic in El Salvador. She came to the United States at age 11 and converted to Judaism as a young adult.

"As part of her faith, new metal vessels require T'vilat Kelim, a ritual immersion in living waters. It can be done in a ritual bath (mikvah), but also in the ocean or a river. The story, in her words: I love the beach.

"I take my grandmother because it's so beautiful, so peaceful. And many times I feel connected to God. I'll go there when it's raining because it feels like it's more alive. It gets me thinking about how God is there, like when a miracle happens. I had a child that stopped breathing. He's my youngest. For me, he's a miracle because he's still alive. He probably had a seizure. (The doctors) told me you've got to watch him. I think every day is a miracle. When you wake up, it's a miracle because there are days when people don't wake up. Your soul, it's like it's borrowed. God can take it any day.