From Arab village to yeshiva thanks to Facebook

Daniel only discovered Jewish roots at age 18, persecuted by family until fleeing Jabel Mukaber neighborhood when one post changed his life.

In cooperation with Lehava,

Bentzi and Daniel
Bentzi and Daniel
Yoni Kempinski

The Lehava anti-assimilation organization is fighting against the Facebook social network for not allowing organization Chairman Bentzi Gopstein to open a user profile to help Jewish children and women escape Arab villages.

Daniel Dvash, 23, lived most of his life as Nidal. He owes his return to Judaism to the Lehava organization, and the process gained momentum thanks to one Facebook post.

"At the age of five-and-a-half, my mother, who was a Jew, died. I was living as an Arab in Jabel Mukaber. At the age of 18 I was working in renovations and discovered I was also a Jew like my mother. This happened when one of the workers put on tefillin every morning. I asked him what it was and he explained to me. I told him my mother was Jewish and I have no idea about her religion, and he explained to me that if my mother is Jewish then I'm also a Jew. It was hard for me to accept. I was a devout Muslim who prayed five prayers a day and fasted in Ramadan.

"Slowly I began to be exposed to this information. At home in the village I was still a Jew in my heart and I didn't reveal it to anyone. After a year-and-a-half I decided I wanted to take another step and wished to enlist in the army. My family found out about it and started threatening me. But because of my Arab accent apartment owners didn't want to rent to me, so I sat down and posted on Facebook explaining my situation at that moment."

Dvash relates what happened when he uploaded the post: "People wrote to me to turn to Bentzi Gopstein so I contacted him, and he slowly helped me into the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea. I learned Hebrew there and I progress every day; everyone loves me and I have many friends. I know many cases of Jewish women married to Arabs who cannot leave because of fear and are waiting for the right moment. We have to fight to be Jewish, but we win."

Bentzi and Daniel
Yoni Kempinski

Lehava organization Chairman Bentzi Gopstein recalls that post that connected him to Daniel. "The connection was created on Facebook when they tagged me and him together, and he was very worried at first that Benzi Gopstein was a scary name. As soon as he arrived, he got a warm embrace and became part of the Lehava family."

Gopstein explains that Facebook is part of an important set of tools to save lives. "Here we discover the importance of Facebook, because there are so many children and women looking for someone to talk to over the Internet."

However, Facebook seeks to deprive Gopstein of this ability. "Facebook doesn't allow me to open an account on my name 'Bentzi Gopstein' or the name of the organization 'Lehava'. I'm going to ask them to give me the option to hold a username. I write nothing inciteful, only words to endear Judaism. I took Attorney Guy Ofir, who is the only one who managed to beat Facebook, a huge corporation with a lot of resources and the legal battle costs a lot of money."

Gopstein turns to the public asking for help to raise the money needed to embark on a public campaign against Facebook to open a profile in his name or in the name of the organization. "I'm investing the little money I have for children like Daniel and women who need help, and I'm trying to mobilize money from the public by Thursday."

To support the struggle - click here.

Daniel's post
From Facebook



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