When Mahmoud Became Nathan,
At a moving bris milah, a six-year-old who was rescued with his mother from an Arab village entered the covenant of Avraham Avinu
Every bris is emotional, a time of new beginnings, but last Thursday's ceremony was truly extraordinary. A six-year-old boy who had been rescued by Yad L'Achim with his mother and two siblings from an Arab village entered the covenant of Avraham Avinu. Mahmoud became Natan, "a gift from G-d."
Nesanel's mother, N., was overwhelmed with emotion. After years of living in fear in an Arab village in Israel's north, despairing of ever being able to reconnect to her people, she was living the impossible dream: Her son had received his bris, the family had moved into their new home, provided by Yad L'Achim, and the children were registered in Jewish schools.
"The rescue comprised two parts," explained one Yad L'Achim official who asked to remain anonymous. "First, we got her out of the village, and then we brought her gradually into the Jewish community. The first stop was a 'safe' house where she couldn't be found by her husband, and today, after determining that she was ready for the next step, we brought her here to her new home."
Last Thursday, N. celebrated two milestones, dedicating her new home and bringing her son to his bris, performed by Rav Yedidya Zeritzki of the Bris Yosef veYitzchak organization. The boy's sandak was Rav Yisrael Lifschitz, deputy chairman of Yad L'Achim.
Immediately after the bris, when his new Jewish name was announced, everyone responded with great emotion, "Just as he entered his bris, may he enter Torah, chuppah and good deeds." There wasn't a dry eye in the house when N. approached her son, hugged him and said in a voice choked with tears of joy: "Mazal tov, Nesanel! Now you are a complete Jew!"
Before sitting down to the meal, the guests danced, carrying the boy, who had had a few drops of blood drawn, aloft on their shoulders. It seemed as if the walls of the new house shook from the intense dancing.
Rav Yosef Ganz, director general of Yad L'Achim, was given the honor of affixing the mezuzah at the front door, while other activists, who accompanied N. and her family throughout the past year of rehabilitation, affixed the mezuzos to the other doors.
Guests then sat down to a seudas mitzvah that had been prepared by Yad L'Achim. In the middle of the meal, N.'s five-year-old daughter approached her mother with a candy she'd received from one of the activists and asked what blessing she should make on it.
At the meal, Rav Lifschitz spoke of the feeling of profound gratitude to the A-mighty that everyone felt for the miracle they were beholding: a family that until recently had been trapped in an Arab village was celebrating a bris mila, and their son was receiving a Jewish name. Moreover, N. was meriting to affix mezuzos on all the doors to her new home, and to hear her young daughter ask what blessing to make on food.
Yad L'Achim chairman Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz saluted the courage of the mother who had severed her connections to her Arab past and decided to open a new chapter in her life as a Jew. "This story of a home that was completely turned around, of children going to Torah schools in the coming school year, testifies like 2,000 witnesses how it is forbidden to give up on any Jew," he said.