Three Jewish Boys, Sons of Arab Father, Enter Bris in Same DayNovember 22, 2023
Leah’s story was one of the most complex that Yad L’Achim staffers had encountered in many years. Born and raised in an Arab village near Carmiel to a Jewish mother and an Arab father, she was deeply torn over her identity.
Her Arab father’s hamula referred to her as a “stinking Jew,” while her mother’s Jewish family would have nothing to do with her, having severed ties from the time of her birth.
Despite the bullying she’d been subjected to by her Arab family as a child, it was only natural that she would marry a Muslim. After all, she knew absolutely nothing of Jews and Judaism. When she came of age, her father married her off to a relative – a widower 15 years her senior – in exchange for a dowry of 50,000 dinars and two fine horses.
If she thought her childhood had been a misery, it was paradise compared to her marriage, which came with daily beatings and humiliation. In the years that followed she had three sons who appeared destined to follow in their mother’s footsteps.
The pattern could have indeed continued if not for Leah’s mother deciding that enough was enough. She couldn’t sit by quietly as her daughter, and now her grandsons, suffered because of her foolish decision 25 years earlier to marry an Arab. Determined to put an end to the legacy of confusion and pain, she handed Leah a phone number – that of Yad L’Achim’s emergency hotline – and begged her to call for help.
One early morning, when her husband went to the mosque for prayers, Leah dialed the number, and the organization’s professionals immediately began working on a plan.
A few weeks later, on a Friday during the month of Ramadan when Leah’s husband traveled to Har Habayis with the other men of the village, no one paid attention to the van with the Arab stickers that was parked beneath their home. Leah and the children were quickly loaded into the vehicle and driven to a secret safe house 150 kilometers to the south.
A year passed and little by little Leah began adapting to her new life. But it was very slow going; the years in the village had left their mark. “As far as Judaism, she is like a newborn baby,” a social worker wrote in her file.
Gradually, with much dedication and effort on the part of Yad L’Achim staffers, Leah began to find the point of Judaism that was buried deep inside her heart. Still, there was one step she refused to take: Allowing her sons to undergo a “hatafas dam bris” ceremony.
That changed on October 7, the date of the horrendous massacre in southern Israel. Leah was deeply shaken, and at the next meeting with her social worker expressed a desire to do something to cement her connection to the holy land, in a personal way.
Hearing her request, the social worker pounced: “Bris is precisely the deed that binds you and your sons to Am Yisrael,” she said, “as the passuk says, ‘and My covenant will be in your flesh as an eternal bris.’ Hakozas dam bris kodesh is also a merit for Am Yisrael’s continued dwelling in Eretz Yisrael.”
The social worker didn’t have to say another word. Leah immediately agreed to bring her sons – who had been circumcised by a Muslim – to hatafas dam bris ceremonies conducted by a Jewish mohel.
This past Sunday, in a small, but moving ceremony held in Leah’s home, the three boys participated in the ceremony and were given the names Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.
Three children who very nearly disappeared from the Jewish people, who were on track to become fanatic Muslims, have turned around and become kosher Jews proudly continuing the traditions of generations who preceded them.