Yad L'Achim maintains contact throughout the year with dozens of Jews around the world, providing them with whatever they need to lead Jewish lives. Many of these Jews have discovered their Judaism as adults, while living in Islamic or Christian cultures. Leading up to Chanukah, Yad L'Achim instructed Jews from Kurdistan, Europe, Russia, Iraq and other places in how to light candles and fulfill the mitzvos of the holiday properly.
"Outwardly, we live completely Muslim lives, but at home we love Judaism and want to return to it," says Mali, a Jewish woman living in an Arab village. "Lighting the Chanukiyah under the picture of verses from the Koran symbolizes for me the victory of light over darkness."
In one case, a wealthy Jew from Iraq contacted Yad L'Achim, which is helping him make his way back to Judaism. This year, the organization sent him a package that included Tefillin, mezuzos and a Chanukiyah.
In another, two brothers lit candles in a European country. Their grandmother was kidnapped as a child and raised by a Muslim Arab. She in turn raised her children as Muslims, but before she died revealed to them that she was Jewish – and so were they. They began to explore their Jewish roots and this year lit Chanukah candles.
Another moving candle-lighting ceremony took place in the home of Efrat (not her real name), a young woman who was rescued from Morocco with her children last year. A security team from Yad L'Achim flew there to rescue her from her Muslim husband and today she is living with her children in a Jewish community, happy to be back among her people.
Amir, the director of Yad L'Achim's Roots division, said: "We operate all around the world, in the remotest places, and before every holiday explain to Jews its halachos and customs. It is particularly moving that on Chanukah, the festival of Jewish light, we are seeing Chanukah candles being lit and shedding light where they sought to destroy us.
"We help any Jew in the world who is interested in returning to his Judaism."