Women Survivors of Arab Villages Prepare for High Holidays at Yad L'Achim Shabbaton



He encouraged Shabbatons for survivors: The founder of Yad L'Achim, Hagaon Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, zt"l, whose yahrtzeit was last week.



Some 70 women rescued by Yad L'Achim from Arab villages, and their children, were treated to an extraordinary Shabbaton this week to help them form close bonds with one another and prepare them for the holidays of Tishrei.

The events, held at a well-appointed hotel in the center of Israel, began on Friday afternoon with an elaborate lunch that included a moving presentation on this period of mercy and forgiveness. The program included divrei hisorerus from Rabbanit Chagit Shira Suissa and soulful songs and Selichos with Mrs. Tzipora Ivgi.

Shabbos candle-lighting was especially emotional, as for many women it was their first time lighting since escaping from the Arab village. Afterwards, they related that this was a special moment that caused them to feel connected to Am Yisrael.

One of the women, who in her youth studied in a religious boarding school, broke into tears. She explained that lighting Shabbos candles brought her back to the days when she observed Torah and mitzvos, and inspired her to commit to keeping Shabbos properly and strengthening herself in Torah and mitzvos.

Throughout the Shabbos, Yad L'Achim's social workers organized workshops that helped the survivors get to know one another and understand how much they had in common. In addition, there were lectures, diversified programming and heart-to-heart discussions that stretched into the night and that encouraged the women to leave behind their difficult pasts and embark on a new Jewish path.

Riveting lectures focused on acquiring Jewish values and on the upcoming holidays, with the message of Teshuvah and the ability of every Jew to open a new page and draw closer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. In voices choked with tears, some of the women shared that these would be the first High Holidays they would be spending among their own people.

Throughout the Shabbaton, special activities were organized for the children by a specially trained team of counsellors. On Motzaei Shabbos the counsellors handed out valuable gifts to the children.

Yad L'Achim officials noted that the Shabbaton was held during the week of the sixth yahrtzeit of Yad L'Achim's unforgettable founder, Hagaon Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, zt"l, who encouraged such Shabbatons as a means of strengthening the Jewish identities of women survivors, and that the Shabbos was dedicated l'ilui nishmaso.

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