Closing of a Circle: Child Named after Jewish Uncle Who Was Buried as a MuslimJune 13, 2023
Abdul was born and raised in the Bedouin diaspora, to a Jewish mother by the name of Rina and an Arab father. His young mother was subjected to serious, ongoing violence, to the point that she decided to escape, leaving behind Abdul, 11, and his 10-year-old brother, Mussa.
The Arab wasn’t willing to let his wife go. After a few months, he had a young woman in his chamula contact Rina, and use some pretext to lure her to nearby Rahat. The woman said she needed to pay Rina back several hundred shekels she’d borrowed from her years earlier.
In desperate need of money, Rina jumped at the opportunity, and traveled to Rahat, the Bedouin capital of the Negev. However, on her way from the bus station to the designated meeting place she was run over by a car being driven at breakneck speed. The driver, not content with striking her once, made a u-turn and ran her over again, before disappearing into the darkness.
As the incident occurred 15 years ago, when security cameras in that part of the country were rare, the police were helpless in solving the crime and the murderer was never caught.
Meanwhile, Abdul and Mussa, who had been named David and Moshe by their Jewish mother, were suffering from serious violence at the hands their father and members of his chamula. The fact that the father belonged to a well-known crime family meant that he didn’t value the lives of others. And the fact that the boys were referred to as “the sons of the Jewess” only made things worse.
After three years of beatings, David-Abdul and Moshe-Mussa decided that they’d had enough, and ran away. They moved to Tel Aviv and lived on the streets; every once and a while, when it was cold or rainy, they were given a few nights in a youth shelter run by the city’s welfare services.
And then tragedy struck: One night, Moshe-Mussa was stabbed by another street person in the height of an argument. If that weren’t bad enough, David-Abdul was forced to see his brother buried as a Muslim at the insistence of their father.
David continued living on the streets until a “chance” meeting with a Chabad chassid that changed his life. The young chassid was manning a tefillin booth and offered David a chance to don them and make a brachah. David had no idea what tefillin were, but took the kind chassid up on his offer.
The two began talking, and David shared the story of his life.
The young chassid, moved by the tragic tale, told David, “If your mother is Jewish, then you’re Jewish.” He contacted Yad L’Achim, which took David’s details and set up a meeting with him.
That meeting was a turning point in his life. After confirming his identity, the Yad L’Achim staffers put him up in a clean, furnished apartment. It also assigned him a mentor, who met with him twice a week to teach him basic concepts in Judaism, and found him a job. Over time, it even found him a shidduch.
Having no family to help with the wedding arrangements, Yad L’Achim stepped in to provide assistance.
This week there was an especially moving closing of the circle. David became a father, and at the Bris Milah, organized with Yad L’Achim’s help by a mohel from “Brit Yosef Yitzchak,” he named his first-born Moshe, after his brother.
Yad L’Achim’s Harav Yoav-Zeev Robinson, who has served for years as a father figure for David, was honored at the Bris with the “chaikah.”
Recalls Rav Robinson: “David and I burst out in tears when he named his first-born son after his brother. After regaining his composure, he told me quietly, ‘I will raise little Moshe like a true Jew, not like my brother who was raised and buried as a Muslim. This Moshe will be our comfort and a source of honor for our mother. Through this child will restore our heritage for future generations.”