A very moving brit milah (circumcision) ceremony was held in Jerusalem on Thursday.
The baby being circumcised is the son of A, a 33-year-old Jewish woman, originally from France, where she studied in Jewish schools until high school and continued her studies at a local university. After graduating, she worked in France assisting special education children. At the age of 28 she went to Morocco as part of a summer camp run by the institution for which she worked.
In Morocco, A met a local Muslim man, who worked at the hotel at which she was staying. The man continued to court her after she returned to France and, after six months, she went back to Morocco, where he persuaded her to stay and live with him.
A described her new life as paradise at first, but after she became pregnant, her Muslim husband began to beat her. He forced her to marry him at the French Embassy so he could get a visa for France. Throughout the pregnancy she was locked up at home, in his village, unable to leave. After she refused his request to convert to Islam, he became even more violent, going so far as to break a closet door on her back.
When it came time for her to give birth, A refused to do so in the Moroccan village, so her husband sent her to give birth in France, sending along some members of his family to keep watch on her. By this time A’s mother had made aliyah to Israel.
After she gave birth, A’s husband’s family brought her back to the village in Morocco. Throughout the time she spent in the village, A would talk to her mother through the internet but did not tell her about the abuse from which she was suffering, because she was sure that her mother would be unable to help her. To cover the marks from the beatings, she would speak to her mother while wearing sunglasses.
One year later, A became pregnant again against her will At that point she told her mother about her ordeal, but her mother was helpless and did not know where to turn for help.
About a month ago, the HEMLA organization, which rescues Jewish women from Arab villages, held a conference in Ashdod which was attended by A’s mother. The mother began crying at the conference, and the organizers approached her to find out why. Thus, A’s horrifying story was discovered.
Using contacts within the Jewish community of Morocco, contact was made with A, and when her husband left the village one day, HEMLA sent a car and rescued her and her two-year-old daughter. A, who was nine months pregnant, was brought to Spain and from there to Israel, where last Wednesday she gave birth to a son. Her children are halakhically Jewish, as Jewish religious lineage is passed on by a child's mother.
“It was a very emotional day for all of us here,” Levi Chazen (who often writes Torah essays that appear in Arutz Sheva's Judaism section) of HEMLA told Arutz Sheva. “Months of work went into this rescue operation, and today was the final byproduct of this great event, having the brit over here in Jerusalem with the mother.”
“G-d willing, they will be living in Jerusalem. It’s just a beautiful event all around,” Chazen added.
It certainly was, for all the people who came to rejoice in the fulfillment of two central commandments in Judaism: the commandment that makes a male child part of the Covenant first made by G-d with the Patriarch Abraham, the brit milah, with the great mitzvah (good deed) of pidyon shvuyim, freeing a Jewish person who is held captive by non-Jews. In some of the pictures below, the sandak, the person who is given the honor of holding the baby during the brit mila, is seen blessing the guests; it is believed that his words have special merit after playing an important role in the brit.