About Oren Laurent
Shalom and welcome to my blog, Or en Shabat – by Oren Laurent
For the past few years I have been on the most incredible journey of spiritual awakening and discovery—“teshuva.” Teshuva means returning to who we are, because sometimes we get lost along the way.
My journey has been very interesting, to say the least. But the great light that has entered my life and that of my wife and children’s infinitely outshines all the challenges we have faced along the way. This is why I decided to open my blog. I want to share with you my discoveries, challenges, what I might have done differently, and all the mind-boggling things I am learning every day. I hope that you will be inspired, find answers to some of your own questions and will join me on this journey of return.
I was born and raised in the southern port city of Marseille, France in 1974. My parents were both professors of French literature, so our home was filled with storytelling and a great emphasis on reading. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Paris and obtained my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. I immediately found employment with a rapidly growing internet company in the capital, where I was responsible for new business development.
Focus on success
I worked with a lot of customers all over the world who were dealing with various kinds of security breaches into their data systems. It intrigued me and I decided to return to school and get my Masters in Information Technology Security. It was a very good move for my career and I got hired by a large internet company in Paris, as a network security specialist. At this point in life, I was mostly focused on getting ahead in the business world.
Nothing is accidental, but I will tell you that by “accident” I found myself on a long train ride one day with a rabbi as a seatmate. I was buried in my work, for most of the trip, but during a break, I glanced up and noticed that he was praying. I was fascinated that someone would actually stand up on a train filled with all kinds of people and pray. It caused me to think about the last time I prayed.
Marseilles, where I was born and raised, has a very large Jewish community, but my family was not so involved with it. We were traditional. I had a bar mitzvah, but afterwards, life returned to normal—meaning not so connected to yiddishkeit.
The rabbi on the train was Chabad, and as all Chabad rabbis do, he noticed me watching him and so he opened the door…Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? These sound like simple questions, but at that particular moment, I suddenly found myself unable to answer. Well, who am I? I am Oren Laurent, but who actually is Oren Laurent? Where am I going? Ah, now that was the question…indeed, where was I going?
After my business travels, I returned to Paris and sought out the local Chabad House near to where we live. I began with those very questions the rabbi asked me.
Gradually, my wife and I began to live a more religious lifestyle. It was not easy in the beginning, and we certainly met resistance along the way. Two years ago, we left our native France and moved to Los Angeles, where we are active members in a large community of mostly baalei teshuva, learning and growing and loving being Jewish.
And what about the career?
Today I work at an internet company in LA as manager of emerging security threats. I also have become very active on several boards of charities that bring sports opportunities to inner-city youth. As an avid runner, I know very well the important correlations between accomplishment in sport and accomplishment in life. I am happy to be involved with organizations who use sports to bring leadership development, empowerment and educational achievement to at-risk youth.
Let’s begin the journey.