Seventeen Jews who were rescued this year from Christian cults participated recently in a special Yad L'Achim tour that strengthened their connection to Judaism.
Among Yad L'Achim's cult survivors such activities are a tradition: Every month, the organization brings them together to participate in uplifting evenings known as "Sheves Achim," during which they learn with yeshivah students one on one, hear special lectures and enjoy a Melaveh Malka meal replete with singing, dancing and words of Torah.
Twice a year, the survivors are taken for a day-long tour that allows them to experience their Judaism in a deeper, more tangible way. The survivors, who share common a past that includes membership in a Christian cult and a return to their people and family, reinforce one another.
Yad L'Achim sent a minibus to several central points around the country to pick up the survivors and their escorts from the organization's counter-missionary division. The tour began at the City of David, continued to the Shiloah Spring area and wound up at the Kosel plaza.
A guide from the Ir David organization who was assigned to the group was asked by Yad L'Achim to show the survivors archeological finds discovered at the site that prove the veracity of the prophecies of the Tenach, and the way they continue to play out.
The findings are physical evidence of the words of the prophets relating to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and contain signs of the future redemption, may it come speedily in our days. They also contradict the idolatrous messages that are preached in the missionary congregations.
"These tours strengthen us very much," said Ohad, who left the Messianic Jews cult on erev Pesach and is still making his first steps back to the Jewish people. "Throughout the entire day we met Jews with a similar stories to ours, we saw the words of the Tenach and the history of the Jewish people come to life. This impacted on us in a big way.
"The tour was a fun, bonding experience for us, but also reinforced our belief in Judaism and the truth of the Torah," said another survivor who asked not to be named and who only a month ago contacted Yad L'Achim, even as he was still connected to his local cult.
"A particularly moving moment came when we saw the results of the terrible destruction, and understood that we are the ones who must continue forward and bear the Jewish torch. The findings also made real for us that the prophecy relating to the redemption of the Jewish people and the building of the third Beis Hamikdash is going to happen, and the fact that Am Yisrael is the chosen people."
The group visited a restaurant in the Old City for lunch, which lasted three hours and came alive with song. Some of the survivors shared words of Torah that they had learned and others spoke of what they had gotten out of the moving tour.
Afterwards, they proceeded to the grave of David Hamelech. Some of the survivors shed tears when they read the holy words of Tehillim, written by David Hamelech, on his tomb. It was their first time at the sacred site.
The survivors moved on to the remnant of the Beis Hamikdash, where they offered heartfelt prayers. Later some admitted that they had davened for their friends and acquaintances who are still in missionary cults, asking that they too should merit to be redeemed and return to Judaism.
The tour ended with powerful dancing of joy and purity at the Kosel plaza, with many bystanders looking on in wonder, understanding that this was a special moment for these young men.
Rabbi Yoav-Zeev Robinson of Yad L'Achim, who organized the tour, said it had been a great success and would be appreciated by the survivors for a long time to come.
"This tour is actually a 'Day of Torah,' " he said. "It grants the participants a sense of the truth of Torah and the importance of fulfilling a life of Torah and mitzvos. You could feel the emotion in the air. The survivors could better understand the redemption the tour guide spoke of, because of their own personal redemption. They understood their mistake and knew that they were returning to Judaism, and in so doing, building the Third Beis Hamikdash within them."