Friday, October 24, 2014

To Live as a Jew

In Hadassah Hospital, a 21 year old girl is fighting for her life. Actually, as she lies in a coma, others are fighting for her life, sitting by her bedside, praying for her, saying psalms in her behalf – Yemima bat Avraham Avinu.
Correct, “bat Avraham Avinu”, the father of all Jewish souls. Only a few short months ago, Yemima, originally from Ecuador, received her conversion certification.
Terror in Jerusalem
On Wednesday, an Arab terrorist plowed down a group of Jews at the Ammunition Hill train station. Infant Chaya Zissel Braun was murdered in the attack, and eight others are in various stages of injury. Yemima Mascera Barera is in critical condition, on life support systems. It’s ironic that Yemima, who wanted so much to be Jewish and come closer to Hashem in His Holy City, became a victim of Arab terror just for that – being a Jew in Jerusalem.
Yemima has been living in Israel for the past two years, strengthening her connection to G-d, Judaism and Israel. Her friends and teachers all say she was always very single minded, focused on one goal - becoming a Jew, coming ever closer to Hashem, marrying a Torah-observant husband and raising a Jewish family here. Completing the dream would be bringing her mother and sister to Jerusalem.
As of this writing, Yemima’s mother and sister are on the plane to Israel, but not in the way the 21 year old had hoped.
Searching for G-d
Rabbi Gavriel Guiber of Un Mundo Mejor (who teaches Torah in Spanish) has helped Yemima for the past five years, since she first wrote to him on the internet, asking him for guidance in leading a more observant life. Her questions had such depth, the rabbi thought she was Jewish. Yemima told him that while she was not Jewish, her mother lit Shabbat candles, and the family had a tradition that the grandmother and great-grandmother had done so, as well. Her family name is one of anusim (forced converts who tried to observe vestiges of Jewish practice), but the family had no documentation that they were Jewish.
Rabbanit Chaya Engel, one of Yemima’s teachers in Machon Roni, a Spanish-language seminary for women, said that the Zohar states that when G-d asked the nations of the world if they would keep the Torah, as a whole they rejected it. However there were small voices within the nations that answered, “Yes!” “No one heard them, except HaKadosh Baruch Hu,” Rabbanit Engel said. “Before Meshiach comes, Hashem is bringing back all those neshamot (souls) that wanted to accept His Torah, because they deserve it.”
Yemima is one of those souls.
Tradition in Ecuador
Back in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Yemima lived as traditional a life as possible with her mother and sister. Her parents are divorced. While they all wished to become Jewish, since the family had little money, Yemima’s mother gave her whatever they had in order to come to Israel.
Rabbi Guiber helped her, and brought her to Machon Roni where other Spanish-speaking women learned Torah. He said, “She is a model example of a gentile that wanted to convert, and also an example to us.”
In order to support herself, she worked in a senior residence in Bnei Brak, and commuted to seminary daily. Rabbanit Sara Yalta Katz, director of the seminary, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, said that Yemima traveled the farthest to learn, but she never missed a day.
When she moved to Jerusalem to be closer to Machon Roni, Yemima worked cleaning houses. Her best friend said, “She would have done anything to learn Torah.”
Rabbanit Engel teaches many Spanish-speaking girls who are preparing for their conversion. “These girls come to Israel, having a relatively high level of education or standing in their home countries. They were teachers, clerks, and today they clean floors. But they are willing to be nothing here, like the Biblical Ruth, in order to be Jewish. We were born Jewish, but they chose to be Jewish.“
Rabbanit Katz said that Yemima decided at a young age that she wanted to become Jewish, but she was always hoping for a sign proving that “Hashem controls the world”. Yemima told her that once while praying the Amida (the Silent Prayer), an earthquake hit. Her family went scrambling under the table, and everything was falling around her. Yemima said that perhaps she was concentrating so intensely on her prayers that she did not feel the earthquake at all. She told herself, “This is it.”
Critical Condition
While Yemima has completed her conversion process, she is still working through the bureaucracy of citizenship. IY”H, may she recover and fulfill the entire dream – living as a Jewish woman in Israel and one day raising a Jewish family that will be a tribute to our people.

Your psalms for Yemima’s recovery are vital.


  1. May Hashem make open miracles and restore this bat Yirael to full good health!

    1. Shouldn't we be davening for Yemima bas Sara Emanu (since for health we bring the mother's name which in this case would be Avraham's wife Sara)

  2. This post is included in  First Joint Jewish Blog Carnival, HH-KCC of 5775. Please check it out, read the posts, comment and share. There are all sorts of topics covered, from food to Torah.

  3. Please Hashem heal this beautiful person fully.

  4. So sad!!
    May she have a refuah shleima and May H" bless her with a long and healthy life.
    My prayers are with you Yemima!

  5. Lovely tribute but oh so tragic.

  6. I believe the name should be Yemima bat Sarah Imenu, as one prays for the ill using the mother's name. I believe the reason is that G-d looks more mercifully upon the woman.

  7. Tragically, Yemima died today.

  8. My daughter who attends Yeshiva is a from a Central American country and will say extra tehillim every day until Yemima comes out of her coma and is healthy.

    May H'Shem destroy Amolek once and for all!!!!

  9. Thank you for the information about this remarkable woman. Baruch Dayan Emes

  10. May the memory of Yemima be a blessing to her family and all Israelis.