After growing up thinking she was a Muslim and condemned to life imprisonment in a violent marriage, R. last week received recognition by the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court that she is a Jew - just in time to join the rest of her people in celebrating Shavuos.
The story began with a disceet phone call to Yad L'Achim asking it to investigate the case of R., whose Jewish mother married a Muslim 30 years ago. The caller was a relative who knew the story and felt the pain of a young woman who didn't have a clue as to her heritage.
R. grew up in the village and was married off by her father at a young age to a Muslim neighbor. During their three-year marriage she endured severe beatings at the hands of her husband, who was subsequently arrested for criminal activities.
With the husband in jail, Sari, a social worker at Yad L'Achim, quickly contacted R. and explained that Yad L'Achim was an organization that identified and rescued Jewish girls who had gotten caught up in relationships with Arabs. Then she delivered the bombshell: R., your mother is Jewish and so are you.
"When I told her the news, she was in shock," recalls Sari. "Even hearing that her mother was Jewish didn't mean anything to her since according to Islam the child's religion goes after the father. But she was deeply moved by the sudden knowledge that she belonged to the Jewish people; it opened for her a window to a new world."
A week later, with the husband still in jail, R. was moved to a safe location inside Israel where she drew closer to Judaism with the assistance of a Yad L'Achim mentor.
Last week, she formally rejoined her people as the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court issued a certificate confirming her Judaism. The Rabbinical Court judges stressed that they had been deeply impressed by R's sincere return to Judaism, evidenced by her acceptance of Shabbos and other mitzvos.
"The Rabbinical Court has been duly impressed" by R's sincerity
The Rabbinical Court certification that R. is a Jew