From Darkness to Light: Yad L'Achim Hosts a Very Special Chanukah Party for Survivors of Arab Villages

The Chief Rabbi of Tzefas, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, addresses the survivors. (Enlarge)
The Chief Rabbi of Tzefas, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, addresses the survivors.

Some 100 survivors who were rescued by Yad L'Achim from Arab villages in the past year participated last Tuesday, the first night of Chanukah, in a candle-lighting ceremony and Chanukah party in Bnei Brak.

The event began with a moving recitation of Tehillim in memory of Maran the Rosh Yeshivah, Hagaon Harav Shteinman, zt"l, whose holy soul was returned to its Maker that very morning. This was followed by a heartfelt lecture from Mrs. Noa Yaron Dayan, who mesmerized the girls with her insights into coping with the complexities of life, and with lessons on the meaning and message of Chanukah.

The highpoint of the evening was the candle-lighting ceremony performed by Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzefas, who helps Yad L'Achim in myriad ways in its holy work. The Rav shared words of inspiration that uplifted and strengthened the survivors in their daily struggles. He stressed that the main miracle of Chanukah, and the reason we can celebrate, stems from a heroic woman who did the right thing. At the conclusion of his words, the Rav blessed the survivors that they merit to build faithful homes in Israel and to have much joy from all their children. The participants responded with a heartfelt "Amen"!

At this point, one of the survivors asked to speak. She told the story of her special connection to Yad L'Achim and of her own activities on behalf of other survivors. On behalf of herself and all the survivors, she thanked the organization from the bottom of her heart.

Rabbi Shmuel Lifschitz, chairman of Yad L'Achim, spoke about the significance of the first candle of Chanukah. The flame shimmers in the darkness, igniting the first light. Addressing the young women, Rabbi Lifschitz said, "Your lights shimmer with the dramatic turnaround in your life; it drives away darkness and brings light to the world."

The participants then adjourned to a festive meal that included a moving, spiritually uplifting performance by Ilana Adai. Tears flowed freely as the survivors accepted upon themselves Ol Malchus Shamayim with great concentration.

The evening concluded with the performance of the mitzvah of challah-taking, which holds many merits and segulos. Honored with taking the challah was a survivor who was just  rescued from a foreign land after suffering terrible abuse at the hands of her Muslim husband. She is entangled in a complex legal battle to win custody of her two small daughters and his hoping to see a yeshuah soon. The participants davened for her success in the trial.

In the days that followed, Yad L'Achim activists were inundated with messages of profound gratitude from survivors who described how much the evening meant to them and how it gave them strength for the challenges that still lay ahead.

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