An 'Upsherin' for the Son of an SLA Soldier

David, 3, undergoes ritual hair-cutting ceremony in Meron - in culmination of a family's rescue from abuse.

Haim Lev ,

Hair-cutting ceremony (upsherin/halaka) in Me
Hair-cutting ceremony (upsherin/halaka) in Me

Thousands of male Jewish children experience their first haircut at age three on Lag Ba'omer, undergoing the upsherin (Yiddish) or halaka (Hebrew) ceremony on Mt. Meron.

But for David, a three year-old who also underwent the ceremony this year, the ritual had even deeper meaning. 

The story began with a desperate email to Yad L'Achim, an organization which helps rescue Jewish women from abusive relationships with Arabs. Three years ago, R. wrote an email in the middle of the night to the organization, begging them to free her from her husband, a former South Lebanon Army soldier who became more and more violent after their honeymoon. 

"Two months after I had my son, I knew I had to make a change - if not for me, then for my son," she wrote. "I did not want his life to be as miserable as mine."

"After looking around, I found you - an organization that helps women in situations like this - and decided to turn to you for help." 

She said that she had no one to turn to and nowhere to go because her father died when she was young, and her family ended all contact with her over the marriage.

"I can no longer tolerate the extreme violence and humiliation," she finished, begging "please help me as soon as you can, before it ends in tragedy."

Shortly after Yad L'Achim received the email, representatives from the emergency call center were in touch with R. - and she and her son were rescued. Both were brought immediately to the home of her brother, who was relieved and excited to hear that she would be returning to live a Jewish life. 

R. met with Yad L'Achim social workers frequently, who provided emotional support and helped her rebuild her life. At the same time, the organization helped her find a suitable job - and she is getting her life back on track. 

R., returning to her heritage, made the moving decision not to cut her son's hair until the traditional age of three. 

And on Sunday, Lag Ba'omer, she ascended to Meron to rejoin the masses of Israel through the celebration of the tradition.