Paulina Ovis is a woman with extraordinary joy. In our conversation, from the very beginning, I fell in love with her joyful and warm personality, which was reminiscent of a girl much more than a 73 year old woman. Yes, yes, you heard right. So what is the secret of her charm? Some would say that the difficulties she underwent are what steeled her and imbued her with a sense of optimism. Some will link it to genetics, and some will simply say that this is simply a heavenly gift. Ovis, though, always gives a single answer: “Judaism is 'guilty' of it,” she says with a laugh, and adds, “It is responsible for my pure joy, for the inspiration and exaltation that I feel.”
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the same sense of elation that she experienced she is trying to spread among friends and acquaintances? This is why she is right now engaged in voluntarily translating Rabbi Zamir Cohen’s book 'Journey to the Truth', in Russian (her mother tongue).
What kind of family did you grow up in?
“I grew up with a grandmother who worshiped everything to do with Judaism, and kept brainwashing us that we are an integral part of the Chosen People, etc. Not only we knew we were Jews, but we grew up with the feeling that there are things beneath our dignity — like imitating gentile culture or getting too close to them. My parents spoke a lot less about these issues, until 1979, when we came to Israel. In Israel, my mother, of blessed memory also began to return to her authentic roots. She explored her Jewish identity and strengthened her Torah observance.”
“Praying that we learn to love one another”
Over the years, Ovis’s interest in Judaism intensified, and it reached a peak when her only son decided to change the direction of his life. He married a religious woman, and even became chareidi. This caused quite a bit of antagonism within the family, but instead of him becoming alienated from the family, Ovis knew it was time to tighten the belts, and become the link that connected and united the family, and prevented it from breaking apart. After all, despite the mental gap that existed between them — he was her beloved son. If he was happy with the new way he chose — it was good for her, too.
How did you accept your son’s new lifestyle?
(Smiles) “Well, it was certainly a kind of a shock for us. At first there were more than a few difficulties and arguments between us, it was not easy, but eventually we found the way to get along, and we were able to adapt ourselves to him and his needs as a chareidi, without giving up our way of life. Overall, I was very much in favor of his move, but there was also quite a bit of pain that maybe we hadn’t given him enough of a feeling that we were with him.”
Do you think it is possible to reach rapprochement without compromising your lifestyle?
“It is certainly possible, but it is not easy and requires a lot of tolerance, understanding and acceptance. I was very insistent on maintaining unity and love in the family, and I think it should not be dependent on anything. Children are children, and you have to accept them and love them as they are.”
Ovis began to work in translation when she was 37 years old, but her involvement in translation has accelerated in the past 13 years ago, after she retired. “It began with translating all kinds of religious texts and lectures for my mother, of blessed memory, and continued with translating things that interested me, such as the lectures by Rabbi Zamir Cohen and Rabbi Yitzhak Fanger which I became acquainted with on the Hidabroot channel. With time, and the more I continued doing this, I fell in love with the Hidabroot channel and its contents, particularly those by Rabbi Zamir Cohen who has devoted his life to sanctifying G-d. After receiving the association’s approval, I began spreading the material I translated among my friends and acquaintances, and thank G-d, the thirst was great, and the response has been good.”
Her translations include many lectures by first class rabbis such as Rabbi Yosef Ben Porat, Rabbi David Braverman, Rabbi Yitzchak Fanger and Rabbi Zamir Cohen. She recently translated the book “Journey to the Truth” — and everything she does is on a voluntary basis, for the sanctification of G-d’s Name. “At first I did it just for myself, because I felt that the contents lifted my heart to heaven, to a very spiritual and high place. Later, I could not help but share the truths I discovered with family members and friends, thank G-d, who are also growing stronger in their spiritual commitment, each one at her own pace.”
When asked what is her greatest ambition, Ovis answers: “I do not know whether it is permissible to dream of such great things, but my greatest aspiration today is to see all of us — every single Jew — living in love and perfectly connected to each other without being judgmental, without schisms and divisiveness. I wish for myself and for all of us, that we will love each and every one, just because he is a Jew. “