There wasn't a dry eye in the wedding hall in central Israel last week. The guests understood that this was no ordinary couple and their marriage was no ordinary simchah.
The bride was the daughter of an Arab father and a Jewish mother, who herself was the daughter of an Arab father and Jewish mother. Anyone not familiar with Yad L'Achim's commitment to its creed – "We don't give up on even a single Jew" – would have difficulty understanding how the organization could imagine that a third-generation of mixed marriage had any chance of winding up under the chuppah. But with enormous siyatta DiShmaya, and its trademark stick-to-itiveness, Yad L'Achim pulled off the unbelievable.
M. was raised in a mixed Jewish-Arab city and studied at a public school where Jews learned alongside Arabs. She could have easily continued in the ways of her mother and grandmother if not for a seminar she attended at the request of a friend at work. The several-day seminar, run by one of Israel's outreach organizations, opened her eyes to a world she knew nothing about. The night before the seminar ended, she confided to one of the lecturers about her difficult life, a childhood among Arabs, constant insults from the wider family and neighbors who branded her a "Jew," despite her having been raised as an Arab, the daughter of an Arab.
The organizers of the seminar turned to Yad L'Achim, which assigned an experienced social worker to the case who contacted M. and suggested that they meet. Initially, M. was hesitant, and told her mother about the call. Her mother tried to dissuade her; there's no chance they'll be able to help you, she argued. But M. decided to give it a chance.
The first meeting led to a second, and then a third, followed by many heart-to-heart talks. M. began to learn about Judaism seriously. The more she progressed in her studies, the more she became aware of the vast spiritual wealth that awaited her among her people. At the instruction of Rabbanim who were brought into the picture, M. began the process of return to Judaism in Beis Din and opened a new life.
Last week, M. stood under the chuppah alongside her chassan, a ba'al teshuvah, who, in a voice shaking with emotion, uttered the words making her his wife in accordance with the laws of Moshe and Yisrael.
Yad LAchim confirmed details of the story, adding: "We have no intention of making do with bringing this young woman to her wedding. With siyatta DiShmaya, we will continue working with the couple to ensure their success in establishing a Jewish home."