By Rhonda Goldstein
Shira was trapped in an Arab village for over 20 years, starting from the age of 16. Now she is free and telling her story for the very first time in a series of events across Los Angeles, New York, and Connecticut, organized by Yad L’Achim.
This will be the first time Shira has ever told her personal life story in a public setting. Shira will talk about her harrowing decade-plus living a life of fear and her story of rescue that took place during Pesach of last year. Her husband was the head of a criminal enterprise, and Shira’s dedication to her children despite her suffering will inspire and amaze you.
Also appearing live at each of the events will be Sari, known as “the mother of rescued women,” who has helped to rescue over 1,000 women and children. She will share several stories of rescued women.
The first few events, for women only, have already taken place in Los Angeles and all attendees stayed until the very end of the event. The women were spellbound after hearing Shira and Sari speak, as well as a surprise guest who brought the audience to their feet in applause. At the conclusion of the events, special videos were shown, including “David’s Bar Mitzvah” about a boy who was rescued from an Arab Village.
“Achmed ben Sara” is a name that would raise eyebrows in any Jewish community. It is also the name of a speaking tour, traveling cities throughout North America showcasing the hair-raising stories of Jewish women and children trapped in Arab villages.
After a series of successful events in Florida, the tour is now coming to California, New York and Connecticut.
Young Jewish girls, often from troubled backgrounds, are groomed by Arab men who, posing as Jews, offer them gifts and attention to gain their trust. But once they follow their new sweetheart into Arab territory, the excitement turns to terror. Women are routinely subject to violence and abuse at the hands of the men they hoped would be their Prince Charming. Their children are raised as Arab Muslims and taught to hate Jews.
“It’s almost impossible for a Westerner to imagine how totally trapped they are,” says Yossi Eliav, director of special projects, organizer of the tour. “Some live like prisoners, without access to a phone or even the freedom to go outside.”
“One woman did not have access to a phone for 32 years and no way to call for help,” says R’ Nesanel Gantz, director of Yad L’Achim in North America.
Yad L’Achim, founded in the 1950s, has rescued thousands of these imprisoned women and their children. The operations are conducted with the utmost secrecy, as the lives of the women, their children, and all operatives are at high risk. Yad L’Achim provides safe shelter for these women and their children once they’re freed, and supports their reintegration into society. The number of Jewish women and children trapped in these conditions today is in the thousands.
“People aren’t aware how many hundreds of girls are drawn into these nightmare scenarios each year,” says Eliav. “Our mission is to show their plight to the world and save as many lives as we can.”
Los Angeles Events:
- Wednesday, May 15 at The Valley: Chabad of North Hollywood, 13079 Chandler Blvd;
- Thursday, May 16 at Beverly Hills: Nessa Synagogue, 142 S. Rexford Dr.
New York Events:
- 7:30 p.m. nightly. Sunday, May 19 in Brooklyn: Har Levanon Synagogue, 820 Ave S; Monday, May 20 in Crown Heights: Lubavitcher Yeshiva Hall, 580 Crown St. (8 p.m.);
- Tuesday, May 21 in Far Rockaway / 5 Towns: TAG Elementary, 444 Beach 6th St.;
- Wednesday, May 22 in Stamford, Connecticut: Chabad 770 High Ridge Road;
- Thursday, May 23 in Queens: Ohel Simcha, 141-41 72nd Avenue.
For more information, including schedule, visit 2019ustour.com or call 646-860-9165. n