Survivors at Kever Rachel
Survivors at Kever Rachel Yad L’Achim Photography

To commemorate the yahrtzeit of Rachel Imeinu, 70 brave women rescued by Yad L’Achim from Arab villages visited her tomb in Beit Lechem last Thursday.

The visit was part of the organization’s ongoing social/educational program aimed at deepening the Jewish identity of these women who for years were cut off from any trace of Judaism. It was meant to give them the tools to continue their journey back to our people and to afford them the merit of davening at this holy site.

The women arrived from all over the country on chartered buses. The event began at a hall in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem, where they were treated to a sumptuous catered meal and a lecture by Rabbanit Orit Saloman, who taught them the story of Rachel Imeinu’s life, and the importance of davening at her tomb.

After two hours of inspiration, they continued onto Beit Lechem. At the entrance to the holy site, Rabbanit Saloman distributed pages with a tefillah and a number of chapters of Tehillim. She lit candles with them and accompanied them inside.

“They read Tehillim together, and then each was given a chance to pour out her heart,” said one of the Yad L’Achim social workers who accompanied the group. “The sounds of their weeping shook up everyone present. They davened for a very long time, asking Rachel for support in the very difficult path that lies before them. They tearfully pleaded for their children, that they merit a Jewish future.

“One of them, who had had to escape from her village without her adult children, cried out bitterly, ‘Ima Rachel, please daven that my children will leave their Arab father and return to me, that they return to Am Yisrael. I’ll be waiting for them till I breathe my last breath.’ ”

Noted one Yad L’Achim official: “This special evening of bonding and camaraderie, this tefillah at the grave of Rachel our mother, whose painful life story intertwines with theirs, inspired these brave women and gave them the strength to continue on. They cried together, they shared their pain and hardships, they strengthened one another. We are confident that their prayers will go up to the kiseh hakavod and have the desired effect.”