By Sara Spielman
An online event organized by Yad Lachim and hosted by the Sydenham Shul of Johannesburg reached a maximum capacity of 1,000 participants with many more attempting to join. All were eager to hear Maya, the Jewish daughter of a high ranking sheikh associated with the Hamas terror organization.
Yad Lachim, which rescues thousands of Jewish women trapped in Arab villages, usually travels to communities around the world with lecturers, but since the pandemic has moved to virtual events to help secure support for their work. Dollars from the Rebbe were gifted to those pledging to partner with their organization.
“The feedback from the communities is amazing,” said Yossi Eliav, Director of Special Projects at Yad Lachim. “People are inspired, crying, laughing; they’re deeply touched. We’re looking to partner with more communities around the world to host these programs.”
Raised in the Arab village of her father’s family, Maya endured unfathomable abuse and hardships, a fate similar to her mother.
“I know I’m taking a risk by sharing my story, but I also know that I’m saving lives,” Maya said at the event that was held over Zoom. “I want to do something worth living for. Saving other girls is a cause worth living for.”
As a young girl, Maya would join her father to regular meetings of Hamas leaders. She sat on the lap of Yasser Arafat and met him a few times as a child. Forced to marry her Arab cousin at age 15, she later escaped persecution and danger and made it her life mission to help other girls in similar situations.
“I’m sitting here with tears running down my face,” wrote Trevor N. on the Zoom chat. “I have two teenage girls 13 and 15 and I couldn’t imagine them going through what Maya experienced. Baruch Hashem for what you do.”
Today, Maya is a heroine who herself goes into dangerous Arab villages dressed up like a local to help rescue other women in peril.
“The human spirit has the unbelievable ability to choose to overcome adversity and change their circumstances for the better,” participant Tarryn R. said. “Maya not only chose to change her own life for the better, she now also helps others in the same situation as she was. Thank you for an incredibly inspiring talk.”
“I had the privilege of hosting this special lady, Maya, AKA ‘Jewish Daughter of Hamas” said Rabbi Yehuda Stern, Rabbi at Sydenham Shul. “Thank you Yad L’Achim for giving us the opportunity. She’s a very courageous woman with a real life story straight from the movies!”
Yad Lachim has scheduled upcoming programs in every English speaking country: Australia, England, United States, Canada and South Africa. To view scheduled events, visit YadLAchimTour.com. To host an event for your group, email: [email protected]