Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tennessee Family Converts to become "Heimeshe Yiden"

by Sandy Eller

A Tennessee family’s long journey to yiddishkeit comes to its conclusion today with the completion of their geirus and a proper Jewish wedding for the husband and wife, to be celebrated with their ten children.

Chad and Libby McJunkin were living in Chattanooga with their large family when they embarked on their quest for religion.
“They had always been very religious but they knew something was wrong,” Dovid Tzvi Steinberg, a friend of the McJunkin’s and a former Chattanooga resident, told VIN News. “They went to the Amish but quickly realized that the answers they sought weren’t there either and the Amish preacher told them, ‘You belong with the Jewish people.’”

Chattanooga has been home to an Orthodox synagogue since the late 1800’s and is home to Eastern Tennessee’s only mikvah. Chad McJunkin quickly hooked up with the local Chabad rabbi, who did his best to dissuade McJunkin from converting to Judaism. Still McJunkin persisted.
“Someone in Chattanooga suggested he contact me and we struck up a relationship,” said Steinberg, who said he and McJunkin became phone chavrusas.

The McJunkin children, seven girls and three boys, range in age from sixteen years to a toddler. All have been homeschooled until now and the McJunkins, will be making a Bar Mitzvah for their son in just a few weeks.

The McJunkins received their Ksav Geirus from Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and will now be known by their new names, Sholom and Nechama. The couple is to be married tonight by Rabbi Tzvi Mandel at Khal Bnei Yisroel in Flatbush.

Rabbi Mandel noted that the timing of today’s events, the first of the shloshes yemei hagbala, was extremely appropriate.
“I have been working with baalei teshuva for 30 years and you see that the Aibishter is getting together all of his children before Moshiach comes,” said Rabbi Mandel.

The Jewish community has already begun to raise funds for the new chosson and kallah and their brood with a crowd funding wedding shower campaign that was created by Alexander Rapaport, Executive Director of Masbia in hopes to raise $20,000 for essential items including new dishes, housewares, appliances, judaica items and kosher groceries.

To participate in McJunkin wedding shower, go to

The family will be returning to Chattanooga after the wedding but Steinberg speculates that they will soon be relocating to a Jewish community that will better suit their needs, possibly Baltimore.

The Family in Boro-Park this morning!


Anonymous said...

Mazal Tov 12 times

Anonymous said...

Wow! How much did that cost?

Anonymous said...

Why is that chassidish guy holding the little boys hand?