One cold night in Jerusalem about two years ago, I fell into a deep sleep. After what seemed like just a few minutes, I woke up. Terrified. In the twilight between slumber and wakefulness, a hand was placed over my closed eyes in an unmistakable gesture. It happened in an instant, but that recollection of the specific gesture that accompanies the recitation of "Shema Yisrael" - of four fingers covering one eye and the thumb covering the other, like a roof - shook me up. After all, the last time I said the prayer before going to sleep was over 25 years ago.
I have since forgotten most of the text, except, of course, for its impressive beginning: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is your God the Lord is one," which I would probably be able to recite even if I lost my memory.
In the darkness, after the confusion had passed, I tried to understand the significance of this message, risen from the depths of my consciousness. It was not a pleasant memory or a kind of childhood nostalgia, but rather reflected distress I had felt in the past, provoked by the fear that I had fallen asleep without saying the "Shema." I wondered what else remained there, deep inside the drawer of the life experiences of the child with the long, pinned-back braid that I used to be. Through the curtain that had lifted momentarily, I discovered the traces of fear that had been an inseparable part of my religious life. Fear that was constantly inculcated in the pure souls of the girls at the Bais Yaakov seminary in Tel Aviv where I studied - and in me as well. [...]