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Aya Kremerman on Her Teshuva: ''If Only You Knew…''

Published on Monday December 21th, 2020

Aya Kremerman, a former supermodel and Israeli TV presenter who did teshuva, has definitely given up rhinestones and spotlights to return her entire heart to her Creator. In the following account, she opens her heart and explains her choice with pride, despite the pitfalls …

I vaguely remember the only time that, before I did teshuva, I went to the Kotel. It was on the occasion of my cousin's Bar-Mitzvah.

I hardly remember anything from the service itself. I just remember that it started horribly early, that it lasted a long time and that I did not understand what was going on. I also remember what I was wearing- I had put on everything that came to my hand that morning, because, my mother warned me, "it's cold in Jerusalem." Then, suddenly, I remember that a "religious" person, one of those fanatics that we saw in the newspapers throwing stones against the cars that were driving on Shabbat, passed by me and threw me a hostile look - at least that's what I thought - that seemed to say, "What does a little girl like you, who has no connection with the Kotel, do here on our territory?".

Today, in hindsight, I laugh. I know that "religious" people, and me, the first, have far too many children to cast hostile glances at those of others. Anyway, the interpretation I made of this look had the effect of moving me away from the perimeter of the Kotel for many years.

Years later, as I timidly began my teshuva, I decided that it was high time to let go of the wall that had stood between the Kotel and me (no pun intended). One morning, I armed myself with courage and took all my children for a trip to Jerusalem. And there, I saw it, erected in all its splendor. As I approached the wall with my baby, I decided that it was time to make peace. I grabbed a book of Tehillim that I found there and began to recite verses. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around. She was one of those pious women whose mission is to cover you with a little shawl, in case you were not aware of the dress code of the place. She explained to me that I was not dressed modestly enough. What? I thought I was going to faint. I had put on my most tzanua (modest) outfit in my wardrobe (and G-d knows that it contained many articles of clothing that did not meet these criteria)! To prove her point, she showed me that my maxi skirt in white linen was translucent and that my legs could quite clearly be seen underneath.

Stunned, I Heard Four Words Escape From My Mouth: "If Only You Knew...".

If only you knew what I endured to be convinced to wear only skirts. Long skirts.

If only you knew how many times I opened the bag in which I stored my old jeans to caress them with nostalgia, and then closed it with a sigh.

If only you knew what it feels like to wear tight pants and sleeveless tops. I know it and, in spite of everything, I choose not to wear them anymore.

If only you knew how much women like you pitied me. And now, I am the one who has pity...

If only you knew how I perceived women like you not so long ago and how much that perception has changed in a few months.

If only you knew what they told me all my life about women like you, repudiated that you are.

If only you knew how much I struggled against my irresistible urge to look like you until I laid down my weapons and succumbed.

If only you knew what clothes I used to wear and what were my conversations as close as last year.

If only you knew what it is like to go to the separate beach remembering what it's like to go to a mixed beach.

If only you knew what it was like to hear on the radio the hits of the 80s that made up your childhood and then change stations to listen to Hasidic music.

If only you knew what it was like to be at the Shabbat table - a pure novelty for you - and not to know a single word of the songs of Shabbat.

If only you knew what it feels like to hear your 7-year-old son tell you that you would be more beautiful with your hair covered.

If only you knew what it was to discover that you can talk to G-d, whose existence you didn’t know about until recently.

If only you knew what it's like to throw away the video of your wedding. And all the photos that go with it.

If only you knew what it is like to celebrate your son's Bar-Mitzvah with separate event in a room in the local synagogue, while in another life, you would have celebrated it by travelling to Barcelona to attend the European World Cup Finals.

If only you knew what it's like to have three times more children than your mother.

If only you knew what it's like to keep quiet out of respect for your parents when hearing them speak in front of your children about the last movie they saw at the movies on Shabbat.

If only you knew what it's like to receive a call from an ex-college at the exit of Yom Kippur who asks you: "Is it you that I saw coming out of the synagogue with a scarf on your head? They say you did teshuva?".

If only you knew what it's like to feel your neshama awaken little by little, when you did not know you had one.

If only you knew what it's like to see for the first time in your life your husband put on tefillin, and then to find out that in fact on Shabbat, we do not put them on.

If only you knew what it's like to throw away all your dishes because you've just discovered that they are tareif (not kosher).

If only you knew what it is to swear to your mother that you will never enroll your children in religious school and to secretly break your promise...

If only you knew how much I pray to erase my past and, at the same time, how much effort I make to accept it as an integral part of my life.

If only you knew how much I cry by the candles of Shabbat, which I started to light after several generations of abandonment.

If only you knew what it is like to discover Hashem. Well, I wish that you did.

If only you knew what an internal struggle it is to do teshuva. How many affronts I have to suffer. How many hits I have to cash. And how much I hated every moment that it took me to buy this white linen skirt, yes, the very one that you just called "transparent".

If only you knew…

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