Until Two Years Ago She Spoke Only Arabic; Last Week She Celebrated Her Moving Bat Mitzvah



From them come the Torah. The head of the Gedera local council, Mr. Yoel Gamliel, together with the Bat Mitzvah girl.



An emotional Bat Mitzvah celebration last week represented the closing of a circle for the 12-year-old girl and her family.

Until two years ago, Y. didn't know a word of Hebrew. She spoke only Arabic and was convinced that she and her family were Muslims. She had no reason to think otherwise; she had been raised in an Arab village in the north of Israel.

But two years ago, on a wintery morning, her mother woke her up early and whispered to her, |"Get up, quickly. We're leaving!" She and her five brothers, together with their mother, piled into a large rescue vehicle sent by Yad L'Achim and were secreted to a "safe house" in Gedera.

During the drive, the mother revealed to them the shocking truth: She was Jewish and, therefore, so were they. This explained the hostile treatment they had been subjected to in the village at the hands of their Arab father and the members of the Hamula.

Their mother had kept their identity a secret in order not to confuse them even more. But in the months before the rescue, she contacted Yad L'Achim, who put one of their social workers in charge of her case. The two formed a close relationship and a rescue plan was crafted.

Yad L'Achim stocked a safe house with all the family's needs and enlisted the assistance of women belonging to the Garin Torani in Gedera who provided support and friendship. At the same time, Yad L'Achim dispatched to the home a full slate of mentors for the children to help strengthen their Jewish identity and meet their emotional needs.

Last week, embraced by her loving community, Y. celebrated her Bat Mitzva, expressing with great emotion her joy at being a part of the Jewish people.

The Bat Mitzvah was attended by honored guests, including Mr. Yoel Gamliel, the head of the Gedera local council. He spoke of his own childhood, growing up in poverty, and stressing that it hadn't held him back. His story was an illustration of the adage of our Sages: Watch out for the children of the poor, because from them will come Torah.

Mr. Gamliel blessed the mother and Bat Mitzvah girl that they merit to continue their growth among the Jewish people.

Another honored guest was Rabbi Yosef Mittleman, the Rav of the Garin Torani in Gedera, who also delivered words of brachah and encouragement.

Yad L'Achim stressed that the simchah was much more than a family affair. The local council, Gedera businessmen and residents went all out to bring joy to the Bat Mitzvah girl on the day she completed her return, and that of her family, to the Jewish people.

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