Yad L'Achim's special broadcast
Yad L'Achim's special broadcast צילום: Yad L'Achim

A special television program saluting 70 years of Yad L'Achim's rescue work, which aired last Wednesday on Channel 20, has sparked an unprecedented wave of calls for help to the organization's hotline.

The program, broadcast from Binyanei Ha'uma in Jerusalem, was planned to coincide with the start of Hanukkah in order to signal the light and hope that Yad L'Achim brings to lost Jews.

Contributing to the program were several of the heads of the rescue organization, media personalities who are familiar with Yad L'Achim's activities, social workers, women who have adopted survivors of Arab villages, a member of Yad L'Achim's legal team, noted lecturers, Yad L'Achim security personnel, and rescued women and children – some of whom kept their faces covered out of ongoing concern for their safety.

Between the speeches, singers Aharon Razel and Yishai Lapidot performed songs of hope and faith, which they said symbolized what Yad L'Achim does all year 'round – bring hope to those in the most dire of circumstances.

The highpoint of the evening was a number of segments broadcast by Channel 20 correspondents who accompanied Yad L'Achim security personnel on rescue missions. One of them showed a Jewish woman and her children in immediate danger of their lives, being rescued from a hostile village in the heart of Samaria. Another told the story of Michal, a Jewish woman who agreed to show her face and share what she had endured under her oppressive Muslim husband.

"The day I told him I wanted a divorce, he cut me with a knife and threatened to kill me because, he said, marriage is for life," she testified tearfully.

Another segment that moved viewers dealt with the stories of mentors who helped children raised as Arabs return to the Jewish people. We see one patiently teaching Yossi, who was rescued from a village with his mother, to read Hebrew. At first, Yossi struggles to make out the words, with his heavy Arab accent; just a year later, he was called to the Torah at the Kotel and reads like an expert.

The final segment showed the Yad L'Achim hotline in action, and the desperate calls for assistance that come from women pleading for help to put an end to their torturous lives.

Operators at Yad L'Achim say that they have been inundated by calls since the program aired. "In the hours following the program, we received more than 1,000 calls. Some came from precious Jews who decided that they wanted to partner with us in the great and rare mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim [rescuing prisoners -ed.]. Some wanted to offer other forms of support. But the most important calls, from our perspective, came from those asking for assistance, from people who know up close women in similar distress. To our great joy, these waves of telephone calls just keep coming. Every day we are inundated with calls for help from people who learned about our activities via the broadcast."

As one of the organization's leaders put it: "This special salute exposed viewers to activities that, by their nature, are normally done far from the public eye. We are already working on new cases that reached us in the wake of the broadcast and are full of hope and prayer that we will be able to bring these women and children their own private Hanukkah miracle and light."