Monday, July 28, 2008

Rescued: Jewish Mom, 8 Children, After 17 Years as Muslims

I wrote a song about this article. It gives me chills.

After a 17-year captivity to an abusive Muslim husband, a Jewish mother and her eight children were rescued Sunday from the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Yad L'Achim, an organization dedicated to solving problems of this type, freed Naama [not her real name] from imprisonment in her own home and almost two decades of fear, shame and violence. Seizing a window of opportunity – her husband was in prison and his brother under house arrest – her liberators wove through the narrow alleyways of the Muslim Quarter to deliver her to safety.

Naama sobs, hugs child

When her rescuers arrived, Naama was living as a Muslim wife in every way, and her Arabic-speaking children had no Jewish identity. All that was set to change as she stepped out this week into a new life among her people.

Naama, now around 40, grew up in a Torah-observant home in the Golan Heights. At 20, she rebelled against Judaism. Constant fighting with her parents and her decision to stop observing Shabbat culminated in a falling-out with her family, and Naama left her home to seek a different life. Vulnerable, with her life in a volatile state, Naama met an Arab man, who married her and brought her to the Muslim Quarter, promising her a warm, stable home where she would be loved and feel happy. Naama's life as a Muslim began.

Deplorable conditions in Naama's Muslim home

In time, she gave birth to eight children, who were raised as Muslims. Meanwhile her husband's abusive nature began to reveal itself. By Naama's account, her children endured a life of violence from their father, and she herself ended up living in a state of fear, threats and constant abuse from the Arab man.

The increasingly lawless nature of Naama's Arab husband led to his arrest by Israeli police and his incarceration in an Israeli prison. With her husband temporarily out of Naama's life, his brother was placed under house arrest, leaving Naama with a window of opportunity to flee her life of Islamic servitude.

One of the rescue vans during the operation in the Muslim Quarter

At this time, word of her predicament reached Yad L'Achim. The charitable group, whose mission it is to return Jews to their cultural and religious roots, contacted Naama and offered her a chance to return to Judaism. Several months ago, after learning of Naama's situation, the organization sent her a messenger. (Continue...)
Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz, chairman of Yad L'Achim, congratulated the rescuers for their courageous action as his charity celebrated the success of another operation. However, Rabbi Lifschitz cautioned that there were many others, like Naama, in desperate need of rescue from such captive and devastating relationships.

"We must think of all those Jewish souls that are still imprisoned," said the rabbi. "We must make use of every legitimate means to bring them from darkness to light." - Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel



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