Yad L'Achim chairman Harav Yisrael Lifschitz addresses the crowd.
It was an unforgettable evening of camaraderie, support and inspiration.
Some 100 women rescued by Yad L'Achim from Arab villages gathered together in Tzefas for a special dinner held in their honor. They were greeted on arrival by the Yad L'Achim social workers who have been in daily contact with them since their rescue to help them readjust to Jewish life.
Sitting down at the beautifully laid table, they found a surprise: Shabbos candlesticks with candle-lighting blessings.
The evening opened with remarks delivered by Yad L'Achim chairman Harav Yisrael Lifschitz, who blessed the women and implored them to continue in their path, citing Rabbinic sources that their efforts would be matched by Divine assistance in overcoming challenges.
The Chief Rabbi of Tzefas, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, made a special appearance. He delivered words of inspiration and encouragement, praising the women for how far they'd come. When he asked whether they would like a brachah, the response was an overwhelming "yes!"
The Rav asked the women to stand, close their eyes, open their hands with their palms facing heavenward and concentrate on receiving the brachah. He proceeded to bless them that they should merit life, joy, courage, faith, fitting husbands and holiness.
In a voice trembling with emotion, the Rav appealed to the Alm-ghty: "They are your daughters! Help them!"
It was a powerful moment that left many of the women with tears streaming down their faces.
During the meal, a film was aired showing the survivors themselves telling a weekend seminar what Yad L'Achim has meant to them. Some commented that "it's a shame more isn't done to publicize the astounding work of Yad L'Achim."
At this point one of the survivors asked to speak. She told of her special connection to the organization, of her own activities on behalf of other girls and warmly thanks all the women in the organization.
One of the most moving moments came when Rabbanit Leah Koldotzki, the daughter of Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, blessed the women, encouraging them to continue on their new journey. She praised their modesty and their decision to offer their children a Jewish education.
Speaking in the name of Hagaon Harav Aharon Leib Steinman, the Rabbanit Steinman asked the survivors to spend 10 minutes lighting Shabbos candles and to use the time for prayers and supplications.
The evening ended with a special performance by a woman who had returned to Judaism who shared her moving story and the joy she'd found in her new life.
By the end of the evening, the survivors were talking about how they'd been strengthened to meet the challenges ahead and how they were looking forward to the next get-togethers.
Some of the survivors listen to the warm words of Tzefas Chief Rabbi Harav Shmuel Eliyahu