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The Story of a “Captive Baby” (Tinok sh’nishba)

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Benzi’s latest “Behind the Flames” column in the Shabbat publication Matzav HaRuach:

The Story of a “Captive Baby” (Tinok sh’nishba)

Most of the words of this week’s column, I would like to dedicate to an especially moving note that I received this week from David (assumed name) – formerly, Achmed (assumed name). Here it is for you, word for word:

“Good morning, Rabbi. Exactly six years ago, we took this photo. In the first meeting between us, I came to you all frustrate, tired and frightened. When I made the decision to leave the village, that was really fresh. I remember I told you: Now I have nobody. You told me: “Daniel, don’t worry, we’re here for you.” I told you: “I don’t have any siblings or anyone”. You told me: “All Jews are brothers”. I told you, “but I don’t know anything about Judaism”, and you told me, “OK, don’t worry, you’re a ‘captive baby’, so we’ll start from zero with you”. And since then, you have been my family and your entire organization are like my brothers. What do I mean, ‘like’ my brothers, they really are my brothers and sisters. You stood by me during the hardest times of my life. You turned the world upside down so that I could h ave a kosher wedding. Baruch Hashem, now I’m in a place that’s good for me. I have 2 daughters and a wife who is a real righteous woman. I now know how to make Kiddush, I lay tefillin every day and say many prayers for the Jewish people. Thank you for everything.”

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If there is anything that gives us strength, motivation and adrenaline to keep on working, in spite of all the difficulties imposed on us, it is messages like this one. David has an amazing life story. He’s the son of a Jewish mother and an Arab father, who discovered he’s Jewish only when he was in his 20’s, his mother having died when he was a baby. He grew up in eastern Jerusalem, in a hostile environment full of hatred of Jews. Six years ago, he told the Jewish boy working with him that his mother was Jewish. The boy told him what that means: You’re Jewish, too. David decided to return to the Jewish people and went through the seven circles of hell in his life. His family threatened to murder him, and he lost any connection with his environment and society. For weeks he slept in the streets, looking for a new family. And then, he came to us, to the Lehava organization. The rest is history. In the photo: Me and beloved David, at that emotional meeting six years ago. Shabbat Shalom.

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