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Take Two

Esther Teichtal

“You will never bear children of your own,” the professor stated unequivocally, fingers riffling through the file of test results and medical imagery. “Tami is unable to get pregnant.” The news ripped into Tami and Asif Ben Yishai like a submerged iceberg on a pitch black night; viciously and with scant warning. Until that moment, Tami and Asif had been flying high — she, the darling of the fashion industry; he, a professional soccer player. With the professor’s dire prediction, all began to unravel.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Raised by a single mother who struggled to provide her with security, and scarred by an emotionally charged childhood, Tami Ben Yishai viewed the wider world as a girl’s ultimate dream — and her own personal ticket to freedom. From trendsetting designers in the world’s key capitals, to Photoshopped faces plastering billboards in every square, the fashion world is notoriously dazzling. Growing up, Tami’s greatest aspiration was to join that world.

For Tami, religion was an ambiguous term. Tami recalls watching her mother usher in Shabbos with candlelighting and a prayer — even having worked to set up a hot plate in the kitchen — yet the TV would be blaring in the living room, and her older siblings would spend Shabbos day at the beach. Pursuing the world of high fashion was not an incongruous choice.

Tami gripped the ladder at its lowest rung and began climbing with grit. At 15 she was already recognized by all the agents in the north ofIsrael. By the time she entered the IDF she’d appeared in portfolios throughout the country and was well on her way to becoming a pro.

She became more famous — and more jaded — after she finished her army service and began to tour the show circuit ofParis,Rome, andMilan.

By the time Tami met Asif, she had achieved international recognition. A professional soccer player from a similar background, Asif was the sum total of everything society expected her to find in a husband. Life sparkled with promise, as Tami and Asif eagerly looked forward to the great adventure called parenthood.

An adventure now at risk of being sunk before it could ever reach the open seas.

As they left the professor’s office, a devastated Asif scrambled for a life jacket. “I say we visit a tzaddik for a blessing.…” Not thrilled by the idea, but desperate enough to try anything, Tami acceded.

Searching for compassion in the rabbi’s study, they discovered a glimmer of hope. “You may have children,” he said, his tone resolute. “Yet, you must promise me you’ll adhere to these three things.” Stunned, they waited to hear the rabbi’s demands.

“You must do all you can to keep Shabbos, run a Jewish home, and study halachah as it clarified in the Shulchan Aruch.”

Setting tables? Tami thought. How is that supposed to help?

The rabbi gave her a stern look. “Your neshamah is unhappy! You were destined for greater things! Leave your line of work, and you will be blessed with a double dose of joy.”

Tami and Asif left the rabbi’s study with wings on their feet. True, they had just been shoved down the proverbial rabbit hole and were now plummeting into unfamiliar terrain fraught with obligations. Yet they wanted children so badly, they were willing to try anything.


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