Mother, Eight Children Rescued From Muslim QuarterJuly 15, 2008
After 17 years of living with an abusive Arab husband, N. was rescued Sunday with her eight children from the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Yad L’Achim seized a window of opportunity – her husband was in prison and his brother was confined to house arrest – to enter the narrow alleyways of the Muslim Quarter and bring her to safety.
N., 40, grew up in the Golan Heights in a religious home. At 20, she rebelled against Judaism and fought incessantly with her parents. In her state of confusion, and with an unstable home life, she was easy prey for the Arab, who married her and brought her to the Muslim Quarter, promising a warm, stable home where she would be cherished.
But reality proved to be very different. She became the victim of threats and abuse as she bore her husband eight children, all of whom were raised as Muslims.
A few months ago, word of her predicament reached Yad L’Achim, which contacted N. and offered her a chance to return to Judaism. “We put her in touch with a Jewish woman who had gone through the same exact experience, and who succeeded in rehabilitating herself,” said one Yad L’Achim official. “That convinced her that she, too, could make it back to Judaism and a better life for herself and her children.”
The rescue began Sunday, July 13, at 3:30 p.m. Dozens of volunteers in Yad L’Achim’s rescue unit met near Jaffa Gate and made their final preparations. They would be operating under difficult conditions – trying to pluck her out of a tiny area that was crowded with hundreds of Arab families – and timing was of the essence. A delay of just a few seconds could give neighbors an opportunity to pour out into the narrow alleyways and foil the rescue.
Special vans were dispatched to the area to provide cover for the rescuers and spirit them, the mother and her children out of the area. The vans’ engines were kept running, while their drivers read Psalms for the success of their friends on their dangerous mission.
When the rescuers reached the entrance to the house, they found N. waiting with one of her children. As soon as she saw them, she began to sob uncontrollably.
The social workers who were part of the rescue team couldn’t help but notice the terrible conditions that N. and her children had endured. They had been living as part of a hamula, or clan, with many families living in single housing unit in appalling conditions. Some of the family members tried to convince N. not to leave.
The rescuers packed N.’s few possessions into cartons they had brought along and led her and the children to the getaway vans. They left the Muslim Quarter within 15 minutes of their arrival, their mission crowned a success.
N and her children were taken directly to a “safe” house that was spacious, furnished and, most importantly, out of reach of her husband.
“Here she will learn to be independent and take her first steps back to Judaism,” said one Yad L’Achim official. “We have people who will be at her side, offering warmth and love. The children don’t speak Hebrew and have not been circumcised. They have no remnant of Judaism, other than their souls.”
Though only a few days have passed since their rescue, the mother and children have made significant progress in their commitment to Torah, with the dedicated help of Yad LAchim’s professional staff.
Yad L’Achim Chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipschitz congratulated the rescuers for their courageous action, but cautioned that there were many others in need of being saved from such devastating relationships.
“We must think of all those Jewish souls that are still imprisoned,” he said. “We must make use of every legitimate means to bring them from darkness to light.”