Monday, October 27, 2014

Is this the last day of your life?

Two days ago, I saw a story on Facebook posted by a friend. I wrote and asked if I could share it here. She wrote back saying that she wanted to check something. She wanted to check on the condition of a young woman who was in the hospital. Shortly later, she wrote back that I could post it - that the critically injured woman's condition has not changed. She wrote it in a way that suggested it would change, or could change, at any moment and was grateful that, at least, the young woman's mother and sister had made it to her bedside to be with her. "May we hear good news," she concluded.

I decided to post it that evening...and then I got busy.

I regret that delay; I regret that I cannot introduce in life someone you can now only meet in death. Yesterday morning, I planned to come to work and post what she'd written. I got busy with work...and only later, heard that a young woman had died. I didn't know it was the last day of her life.

I didn't know that the miracle of her having survived the night wouldn't take her through the next day. Last night, Yemima died. If it helps at all, in those last hours, she had her mother and sister, her teachers and friends and thousands of others praying for her. And last night, several hundred people attended her funeral.

I hope you all heard about the little baby, only three months old, who was murdered at the end of last week by a young Palestinian/Hamas "man", who bravely rammed his vehicle into pedestrians, including a tiny baby carriage which contained the total dreams and future of a young couple who had tried, for 13 years, to conceive a child. Chaya Zissel Braun brought joy to her parents...from the moment they knew she had successfully been conceived, to the moment she was born, to the moment she was murdered...nine months...and three months...one year, after 13 years of waiting.

As the news first reported, 9 people were injured, including an infant, including Yemima. Little Chaya died shortly after the attack. 

For each victim, there is a story...not all stories get told and that's sad. We don't know much about the other victims. Four were lightly injured, treated in the hospital and quickly released to their families. They will never forget, will always be scarred. The most we can hope for is that the scars are only on the outside.

Two were moderately wounded; two were critically injured. We know nothing of the moderately wounded victims and nothing of one of those that was critically injured. Perhaps in a few days, the news will report that this person was released from the hospital. We are likely to never know how these people struggle to return to what they were before...and for some, life will always be measured in "before" and "after."

The other critically injured person was a young woman from Ecuador. Her name is....was... Karen Yemima Mosquera and she was 22 years old.

Two days ago, I asked if I could share the following story. I will forever regret not posting it yesterday...I didn't know it was the last day of Yemima's life. This would have been, should have been, a guest post by Sharon Katz...whose amazing daughter sat by Yemima's bedside for hours...

Yemima, Daughter of Abraham, Our Father


By: Sharon Katz

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 [God] 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 -

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.
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.

However there were small voices within the nations that answered, “Yes!”

“No one heard them, except HaKadosh Baruch Hu,” Rabbanit Engel said.

“Before Meshiach [the Messiah] 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 [if it be the will of God], 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.
Yemima, daughter of Abraham, our father...died last night and was buried in the holy city of Jerusalem. I didn't know it was the last day of her life...

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