Some 50 women rescued from Arab villages by Yad L'Achim in recent months were treated to an unforgettable experience this Sunday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. They were brought to the Kosel, the remnant of our holy Beis Hamikdash, where they had a chance to pour their hearts out in prayer.
"This was my first time at this holy place," said one of the women in a voice choked with emotion. Another said, "The last time I was here was when I was three years old."
After a while, the organizers at Yad L'Achim announced that it was time to move on to the next portion of the program, but the women had a hard time parting from the stones of the Kosel, which have absorbed so many tears throughout the long years of exile.
"I cried tears of gratitude to Hashem who saved us from the vale of tears and provided us with a new opportunity via his faithful representatives, the good souls at Yad L'Achim," said a survivor. "At the same time, we felt that this is the place to let it all out, to cry over what we've been through, the difficult periods before we emerged from the darkness into the light."
The women were then taken on a special night tour of the Kosel Tunnels that was meant to strengthen their Jewish identity – an important experience for women who until recently were in danger of being entirely cut off from Am Yisrael, R"l.
After the tour, the women were brought to a warm, homey facility recently set up by Yad L'Achim in Jerusalem. They sat to a festive meal set up on long tables that gave them a chance to talk and offer support to one another. Most importantly, it reinforced their sense of belonging to the Yad L'Achim family.
When the time came to return home, the survivors asked when the next event would be. They all spoke of how they had drawn strength from the evening, and, most importantly, a sense of warmth and joy of spending time together in their Yad L'Achim "home" in Jerusalem.
"We felt like members of one family and drew spiritual strength from this wonderful, sacred place," said one.