Three generations who lived as Christian Arabs, abused, return to Judaism together

The grandmother, whose parents survived the Holocaust and brought her to Israel as a toddler, was drawn back to her religion by her daughter.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In what must be a rare event in the Jewish world, a Holocaust survivor, her daughter and her grandchildren declared their desire to return to Judaism together at the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, Channel 20 News reported Monday.

The grandmother, who was born at the end of World War II, was brought to Israel at the age of two along with her twin sister by her survivor parents, who hailed from Poland and the Ukraine. When she was 16 or 17, she fell in love and married a Christian Arab, moved to an Arab town in northern Israel and abandoned her faith. Although her husband mistreated her terribly, she did not leave him.

It was her daughter who started the journey back to Judaism after she, too, had married an Arab who abused her.

“I said that I’d return to my roots, to my hope, to where I belong,” the daughter told the network. “Something was missing from my life. So we chose, my children and I, to be normative Jews.”

The journey was not without some starts and stops.

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She first turned to Yad L’Achim, an organization that helps Jews escape from Arab families that are abusive, a few years ago, and they began the process of return but did not complete it. Then, when she went with her own daughter to the Interior Ministry a few months ago to change their last name back to its original one, she was surprised to learn that they were still registered as Christians.

She went back to Yad L’Achim, which immediately began to work on the case. On Sunday, all three generations appeared in the religious court before three rabbis and emotionally told them of their strong desire to live as Jews.

The grandmother was “very excited,” she said in the interview in which none of the family’s faces appeared and their voices were changed for fear of retribution from their Arab relations. “I’ve waited a long time [for this].”

The rabbis’ ruling will be handed down in a few days, but as Judaism does not recognize conversion to other faiths, the written decision should be a mere formality that will allow them to officially register as Jews and prevent any potential bureaucratic hurdles in the future.