A., a 36-year-old Jewish woman, spent 18 years in an Arab village in southern Israel together with her Arab husband. They'd met at a food factory where they both worked. After moving to his village they had six children.
Around six years ago, a childhood friend of A. reached out to her out of the blue, after more than a decade of no contact. A. revealed that she wasn't happy and wanted to leave her husband and the village. A few days later, the phone line in A.'s house went dead. It turns out that her husband had learned about the phone call and disconnected the line. He also punished her with violence.
About a year ago, five years after A's friend called, Yad L'Achim made contact and devised a rescue plan for A. and her children. The rescue, termed "especially dramatic," was followed by the family's safe placement in a secure hideaway, where they began a period of rehabilitation under the guidance of a Yad L'Achim social worker.
At the same time, the children, who didn't know a word of Hebrew, began to blend in carefully and gradually, in their Jewish schools, with the help of mentors sponsored by Yad L'Achim.
A. recently underwent a "return to Judaism" procedure and wanted to mark her escape from the Arab village with a symbolic visit to the Western Wall together with her children. The visit, organized by the children's mentors, was made at the end of last week.
"We were very moved to hear A.'s request to visit the Western Wall together with her children, who had been educated in Islam," said an official at Yad L'Achim. "We have been in close contact with the family throughout their rehabilitation and it never ceases to amaze us how the Jewish feeling burns so strong, even after 20 years in an Arab village, cut off from her people."