- Social & Humanitarian
- The Rebbe
March 18, 2008
While the topic of how to reach out to children of intermarried couples animates discussion in communities, synagogues and schools, it’s a whole different brew—with danger and hostility thrown into the mix—when the children are the product of a Jew and an Arab.
Complicating an already thorny situation, children of intermarriages between a Jewish woman and an Arab man who want to live as Jews—and there are many such in Israel—need a lot of help and careful maneuvering from dedicated individuals willing to become involved in the quagmire.
Such was the case recently with five boys, sons of an Arab father, who learned that they are Jewish when their maternal grandmother asked to be buried in a Jewish cemetery shortly before her death.
Chabad’s Rabbi Sholom B. Lifshitz, Director of Yad L’Achim, would only disclose scant details to protect the identity of the children and their mother.
But he tells Lubavitch.com that not long after their grandmother’s death, one of the grandchildren, a patient at Schneider’s Children Hospital in Petakh Tikvah, made conversation with a yeshiva boy in the next bed and his dad, a rabbinic figure.
In the course of conversation, the Arab looking boy told the Rabbi: “ana Yehud," Arabic for "I am a Jew."
The Rabbi contacted Yad L’Achim, a social service organization with its main offices in Bnei Brak, Israel.
"The children were clear about wanting to live as Jews,” says Rabbi Lifshitz, so Yad L’Achim threw its resources in to helping them and their mother, and recently, the boys celebrated their brit milah: Tmam, Khalil, Yusuf, Mishil and Daowd took the names Moshe, Daniel, Yosef, Ma'or and David, and are now studying at Jewish schools in Israel.
"We have so many cases of Jewish girls who, either because of family problems or other problems, have not found their place within the Jewish community, and become easy prey for missionaries, or falling in with Arab men,” says Lifshitz.
In this case, he explains, the boys’ grandmother was a Holocaust survivor who arrived alone in Israel, broken and lost. She lived in a mixed neighborhood, and ended up with an Arab husband.
Yad L’achim, founded by Chabad to help Jewish immigrants at the time of Israel’s establishment, is a well known address with a staff of some 100 volunteers, social workers and counselors. The organization is involved in a wide range of activities, among them the rescue of Jewish women and children, and help mainstreaming them once they are out of danger.