About PeninaPenina Taylor is the director of Shomrei Emet Institute and the founder of Torah Life Strategies. She comes to both organizations with a unique prospective and highly qualified expertise in this field.
Born in New Jersey into a secular Jewish home, Penina’s primary exposure to Judaism was from her grandparents who sent her for two years to a Jewish day school.
During her childhood, Penina frequently faced some very difficult situations, causing her to begin thinking about the meaning of life. In an attempt to escape the peer pressure of drug use, she turned to a close friend for advice and eventually experienced a faith-altering conversion to Christianity.
During a seventeen-year period of involvement in Christianity, Penina became an “in-demand” speaker at churches, youth groups and women’s events. She went on to obtain a Bible Certificate from Miami Christian College, was certified in the Evangelism Explosion program and served as a counselor for the Billy Graham Crusade. She also served as a Sunday school teacher, Head of Women’s Ministry, Head of Prayer Ministry, Worship Leader, and served on the Deaf Ministry.
After eight years as a Christian, Penina discovered “Messianic Judaism.” During the next nine years she became a leader in the messianic movement, created a Messianic Passover Haggadah and authored dozens of articles. In 1994, Penina co‑founded a Messianic Congregation in Bowie, Maryland along with family members she had lead into Christianity.
Penina and her family helped launch a sub-set of Messianic Judaism called the Association of Torah Observant Messianics. Her involvement in this movement became a catalyst for her to explore authentic Jewish literature and Torah observance, forcing her to confront some real challenges to her faith.
Her search for answers was assisted by Mark Powers, who was at that time the director of the Baltimore center of Jews for Judaism. Together they examined the scriptural basis for her faith and explored the spiritual beauty of Judaism.
In July of 2000, after seventeen years of involvement with Christianity, Penina made a complete return to Judaism. She continued intensive studies of Judaism and for several years volunteered in the Jewish community to encourage Jewish people to explore their own faith before looking to other religions.
She worked for two years as the staff educational consultant for Jews for Judaism - Baltimore, where she spoke at over fifty congregations and Religious school programs, did counseling and fielded hundreds of phone calls from inquirers of all backgrounds until December 2006 when she left the Baltimore office to make Aliyah to Israel with her husband and four children.
In November 2006, Penina established Shomrei Emet Institute for Counter-Missionary Studies. During 2008, she served as the Executive Director of Jews for Judaism, Jerusalem before leaving to return to her work with Shomrei Emet and found Torah Life Strategies, an organization whose mission in to assist Jewish people in establishing a deeper relationship with God and achieving personal fulfillment based on Torah values. Penina regularly travels around the world speaking to Synagogues, youth groups, seminaries and yeshivas, as well as organizations and businesses.