In her native country of Cuba, 41-year-old Dr. Doreinis Torres Martinez possessed only two sets of clothing and a single pair of shoes. Despite limited access to food, she found great joy in life and a transformative opportunity: the chance to pursue higher education at no cost. Reflecting on her decision to study medicine, she explains, "I chose medicine because I desired to assist others and provide as much healing as I could."
Dr. Torres Martinez's pursuit of excellence came as no surprise to those who know her. As the only child of her parents, she never had to disclose her test scores at home, as nothing less than a perfect score was acceptable. Her father, an accountant who also trained as a chef, and her mother, a clerk, still reside in Cuba today. "They always encouraged me to study and strive for progress, as they wanted to spare me the poverty and hardship they experienced," she says of her parents.
At 22 , destiny brought Torres Martinez and Aryeh Yanai together. Yanai, an Israeli gentleman 19 years her senior, visited Cuba and their love story unfolded across three years, predominantly through phone conversations. Reflecting on those years, she reveals: "It became clear to me that I had no future in Cuba. My aspirations as a physician seemed unattainable there. At the age of 25, without my parents' awareness, I orchestrated my escape to Israel. Deep down, I knew that if I had confided in them, they wouldn't have allowed me to leave everything behind and embark on this journey."
Departing from the confines of the communist nation proved to be an arduous endeavor. Recalling the treacherous ordeal, Dr. Torres Martinez discloses, "I had to strike a precarious deal with smugglers who waited for me and a small group of people under the cloak of night. In my mind, I pictured a luxurious yacht, anticipating a brief wait until reaching our first destination – the United States. However, my reality turned into a harrowing voyage that spanned four agonizing days across the sea, with no food. All the while, I grappled with a deep-seated fear, knowing full well that I lacked even the most basic swimming skills."
As the fourth day dawned, she finally reached the shores of the United States. "We were ushered into a facility resembling a makeshift detention center, where we were questioned by the authorities," Dr. Torres Martinez says. "I can't even express the magnitude of what I endured to reach this land. Since departing from Cuba, I have never returned. My parents may come and go, but my path lies elsewhere."
In Israel, a fresh chapter unfolded as she embarked on a new odyssey: embracing Judaism and decided on motherhood. After years of arduous treatments, the precious fruits of her labor arrived in the form of twins, Ana'el and Nathaniel, both now 10 years old. "Two years after their birth, just as I found peace in motherhood, my husband confronted a medical crisis that rattled our lives. It became evident that I had to take up the mantle and contribute to the family's well-being," she says.
For a period of two months, she diligently toiled in housekeeping, discreetly concealing her true identity as a doctor from her employers. Recounting a pivotal encounter, she shares, "It was during this time that one of my employers shared with me her daughter's pursuit of a medical career. In a moment of revelation, I disclosed my own background."
"Though initially skeptical, she refused to let me give up my aspirations, urging me to rekindle my passion in the field. She urged me to undertake the national medical examination, acquainted me with its intricacies and requirements, and even facilitated my enrollment in a Hebrew language course. Her unwavering support truly paved the path for my return to medicine, according to the doctor.
"I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to making this dream a reality: juggling the responsibilities of raising twins, managing the household, all while steadfastly pursuing my studies. I can proudly affirm that today that I embrace the essence of my motto, which emphasizes that – above all – I am a human being before I am a doctor. This is precisely what I envisioned – to provide care and support to patients on a personal level, to connect with them eye to eye, and to ensure they find solace in knowing they have someone to confide in," she said.
Today, Torres Martinez is a specialist in family and pediatric medicine and manages the Lev Shoham General Clinic near her home in Beit Arif. A few years ago, the person who had encouraged her to pursue her dreams visited her clinic.
"She had no idea she would meet me, and the excitement was overwhelming. I thanked her for everything and told her that she holds a special place in my thoughts every single day. I truly believe that God brought her into my life," the doctor concluded.