Unit pride

It took me time to turn my repentance from shame into pride. From here I call on religious soldiers: Don't be afraid to stand on G-d's side.

Aya Kremerman,

Religious soldiers (unconnected to article subject)
Religious soldiers (unconnected to article subject)
Photo by Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90

Imagine the following situation. Sunday, 11th of Tishrei, 12 years ago, I'm at the end of my second pregnancy, barely surviving the fast of Yom Kippur, with my belly and an active child of three.

Thank G-d, we passed the hard part. Now we have to figure out where to get a sukkah. The phone rings. "Good morning, Aya, this is X from Pnai Plus; we heard on Yom Kippur you came to synagogue with a head covering. Did you do teshuva?!" (Lit. "return", teshuva is commonly translated "repentance".) Mild heart attack. In that moment I looked like a cat noticing car headlights racing toward him. Gripped with terror. Obviously I was in the process of return. But I was really not ready to admit it. Almost not even to myself. "No, I was just respecting the place," I managed to answer without adding grist to the gossip mill. Thank G-d. For years I've wondered who was the one who saw me leave the synagogue on Yom Kippur Eve and thought to himself he must call to tell the newspaper.

Jump six months ahead. Friday afternoon. The pressure of Friday afternoon. I'm fluttering around a house like a tornado to turn it into Shabbat. I'm still not accustomed; everything's new to me. Hotplate, plug the light into the Sabbath timer. Timer for the hotplate. A toothpick in the fridge so the light doesn't turn on. Every week we took on a little more for Shabbat, every week I had to prepare a little more. Not simple, but exciting in ways I can only miss now. The phone rings. On the line is the writer of a story about me as part of a public relations campaign for a television show. "Aya? After we met for the interview, I went back to the editorial board of the newspaper and told them how charming you are. They asked me if we talked about your return to religion. I was in shock. You didn't say anything to me! Are you a ba'alat teshuva?!" Goodness gracious. The headlights again. What's with this car? It's chasing me. I was silent. No, I'm not ready yet. I can barely succeed in looking at myself with a head covering, which I dare to put only at home on Friday night. G-d, do me a miracle and don't bring me out of the closet. I'm not ready.

You have no idea how ashamed I was to admit I was becoming religious. Before myself, before the family, before friends, people in the neighborhood. Before the media? I hated religious people so much, what they taught me they represent. Fanaticism, extremism, darkness, ignorance, Shoresh sandals. Ugh. Why'd I get into this story? Who wants to be religious anyway?! My soul; she wanted. Less did she leave me a choice. And then Hashem decided to play hide-and-seek. I could no longer hide and deny. I put on a head covering and everything changed. I looked in the mirror and a ba'alat teshuva faced me. There was no point in denying. It's time to come out of the Holy Ark: I'm religious.

Then everything turned over for me. From terrible shame I felt a surge of pride. Like a peacock I walked down the street. Covered, and still like a peacock. And then, when I first heard that the Torah was written 974 generations before the world was created, I understood how deep and primordial is my backing, how much power stands behind me, worrying for me. I was bursting with joy because I'm on the right side. On the side of truth, on the side of holiness. And like the song by Aaron Razel: So bring me ten people; ten people who are ready; to stand with me on the roof and shout; The L-rd is G-d.

Just let me shout. The L-rd is G-d. How amazing it was to find out. Because I didn't know. The truth is, I didn't know.

Go proudly with the kippot

Last week, a difficult and unnecessary situation arose between religious soldiers and a female paratroopers instructor. A situation that is clear to me, or perhaps it's one of those temporary Elul visions, that all parties understand there were more elegant ways to avoid or end it. That's how it is when you want to make peace instead of making a quarrel. Looking from the outside, I support the soldiers, even if not necessarily the way they did it. There are likely to be more effective ways, but I reinforce them for the intention behind the act. Because sometimes you have to stand on the roof and shout "The L-rd is G-d". Because this is the absolute truth, but mostly, it is your truth. Don't be shy about it, don't give it up. Don't hide it, don't be dwarfed.

The Holy Ark is too full of people who say the asher yatzar blessing in the corner in a whisper so no-one will notice them. What about you? Who got a Torah education from the very beginning? You who have the ability to take an active part in Israeli society, not to be isolated, and still be attached to the path of G-d - that's your uniqueness. To be a part of things, without apologizing for the path, without diminishing it so it won't be felt or interfere with anyone else. Go proudly with the kippot, with the fringes. You know why? Because you are who you are, with your battle spirit, volunteering for the most difficult tasks, the giving and the sacrifice, thanks to Him. Thanks to your devotion to Him. Thanks to the forbidden and permissible. Thanks to prayer and study. Thanks to guarding the eyes and kashrut, and not despite all these.

Don't be afraid to stand on the side of G-d, He and the Holy Torah are standing by you. But do you know what? Be smart. Be light. Be a great light. Did Hashem bring you to a problematic place? Be G-d's emissary, be His ambassador. Explain, talk. Be more than anyone else. In a pleasant way, with manners. Explain the light of holiness that stands behind things masquerading as darkness. Be a connecting bridge and not a dividing one. Be His fighters. Because that's what makes you the fighters you are, and the people you are. Waiting for you on the roof.

*** Mustard Salmon ***

A great recipe that fills the house with a wonderful aroma. I make the fish for the first meal, and what remains tops off a lettuce salad on Sunday afternoon. The recipe makes enough sauce for a whole fillet. You can dredge the fish in the sauce or just smear it on and get a completely different dish. One is softer, the other is roasted. It depends on what you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 salmon filet, or however much you want to eat
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coarse dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

Mustard salmon before baking
iStock

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients except the oil and sugar in a heat-resistant baking pan.

Pour the sauce over the fish

Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the sugar on top

Place in a preheated 250 degree oven on grill: 8 minutes for medium, 12-14 minutes for well done

The sauce keeps well in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Comments: ayakremerman@gmail.com

Baked salmon fillet in balsamic honey-mustard sauce with rice
iStock

Translated by Mordechai Sones

Salmon with mustard
iStock

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