"If someone would have told me then that in another six months I would be celebrating with him his first haircut, as a Jewish boy, together with so many other women survivors like me, I wouldn't have believed it."
Yad L'Achim chairman Rabbi Yisrael Lifschitz cuts the hair of Jewish boy that Yad L'Achim rescued from an Arab village.
Yad L'Achim activists recently conducted a "seminar on wheels," educational programs combined with field trips, for Jews rescued over the past six months from missionary cults and Arab villages.
On a special field trip organized for dozens of women extricated with their children from Arab villages by Yad L'Achim activists in daring missions, mothers and their children arrived at a special facility in Emek Hefer, in central Israel, where they were greeted by Yad L'Achim staffers bearing drinks and fresh pastries.
The children were given hats and shirts specially designed for the occasion. They played under the watchful eyes of their mothers, who had a chance to chat with fellow survivors and offer one another words of encouragement. Yad L'Achim staffers circulated among the group offering advice and support.
Afterwards, the group traveled to "Yad L'Achim House" in Netanya, where they were served a festive meal. The highlight of the event was a moving address by Yad L'Achim chairman Rabbi Yisrael Lifschitz, who praised the women for having had the courage and commitment to begin new chapters in their lives. He spoke at length about the bright future that awaits them and their children, in the wake of their decision.
At one point, the room grew silent as participants lifted a child onto a chair, where he received his first haircut, or chalakah.
"I can't describe how this boy looked just half a year ago, nor do I want to," his mother said in a voice choked with tears. "If someone would have told me then that in another six months I would be celebrating with him his first haircut, as a Jewish boy, together with so many other women survivors like me, I wouldn't have believed it."
At the end of the program, mothers and children, brimming with joy and emotion, were driven home in buses chartered by Yad L'Achim.
Meanwhile, Yad L'Achim branches in Tel Aviv and Haifa's Kiryat Eliezer prepared special programs for people saved from the missionaries. These are Jews of all ages and types whose common denominator is that due to Yad L'Achim's intensified PR campaign of recent months, they had cut off their contact with cults and are now taking their first steps in the world of Torah and mitzvos.
When they arrived at the Kosel, some of them for the first time in their lives, they stood by the holy stones with tears flowing freely and hearts opened wide as they took in the holy, uplifting atmosphere.
An especially moving moment came during the tefillah at the Kosel, when one of the survivors, Zeev Green, 79, rolled up his sleeve and put on tefillin for the first time in his life. The other survivors, who know Mr. Green due to his former prominent position as national safety inspector in charge of the country's factories, were moved to tears by the sight.
Yad L'Achim released a statement this week saying that this kind of programming reflects its approach "that emphasizes keeping constant contact with each of the survivors."