By Rivka Perlman

April 18, 2012

A Marrano Jew

You wouldn’t recoginize me when I’m with my sisters.  I’m totally unfriendly. It’s not that I don’t want to be friendly, but in my family we’re all “people people.” And I get nervous. It can take about a half a minute between meeting someone new and being in conversation with them for the rest of the afternoon. And there goes family time.  I say hi, but I keep my distance. I just don’t want to make new friends.

So when my sister’s friend, Miriam came by for a visit, I was nice – but just barely. Until she opened her mouth. Then I knew – I needed to talk to her more. Two days later I took a walk down the block, together with my 6 year old to speak to her.

Miriam, who barely knew me, was on her way out and had been trying to leave for awhile. But as soon as I showed up she changed gears. She simply said, “oh, this is why Hashem wanted me to be here.” She didn’t ask me any questions,  she didn’t get flustered, she was like  Avraham Avinu (Our Father, Abraham), “Hineini – I am here, ready to serve.’

We sat down in her backyard but my camera only had 28 minutes of memory left, so we had to cut our conversation short. There were so many questons I wanted to ask her; about her conversion, about her search, about her kids and how they’re adjusting, about her Marrano identity…

A few days later I got to speak with her again and I saw that there were huge, fascinating chunks of her story that I hadn’t heard about. She told me that people are always telling her to write it down, and she feels that its what Hashem wants her to do. So she’s working on it. Her book is going to be called “And I Pleaded to G-d” (Va’eschanan el Ha’elokim”)

What I gained from my time with Miriam was so much more than stories though, and I think you’ll know what I mean if you watch the video until the end. (Its about 10 minutes) It’s her faith.

She has the faith of someone who has completly and totally given themselves over to Hashem. An utter and sincere servant. She has a faith that’s born through the clarity that only suffering can bring. And she runs her every decision based on the criteria; “Hashem, what do You want?” I wanted some of that.

Before I left, I asked her to bless me. We stood outside in the sun, the breeze playing with the nearby trees and both our husbands waiting quietly as they watched us speak a language that women can only speak between themselves. She addressed Hashem directly and then pulled down a tailor made blessing from Heaven for me.

If you want to comment you can address the comments to her and welcome in a new Jewish sister. We’re lucky to have her with us.





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