Dear Dr. Yael,
I was lucky enough to see an incidence of hashgacha pratit in my life that I would like to share with you and your readers. I think that our young people today do not realize how bad anti-Semitism can be. Maybe my story will help clarify this for them.
In 1947, I was a child in Aleppo, Syria. We lived in a Muslim neighborhood. We had a good relationship with our neighbors. My friends and I would play with the Muslim girls outside our homes, but only until they were about 10. That is when they were considered of marriageable age and could not associate with us.
In 1948, the partition of Palestine took place along with the declaration of independence for the newly created state of Israel. Looting began in Aleppo. Hordes of wild Muslims roamed the streets shouting, “Palestine is our country and the Jews are our dogs.” They had kerosene tanks that were attached to donkeys and they were ready to burn down Jewish homes.
We had a Muslim neighbor living on the third floor of our building. He was a lawyer, educated in England, and was very respectable. He worked for the government. He hid us in his apartment.
The rioters arrived in our building and began screaming for the Jewish woman who had been born in Palestine. The lawyer’s wife put on a head covering and went out on the porch and yelled, “People of Mohammed. What are you doing? If you burn the first floor, it will reach the third and we are Muslim.”
Again they yelled that they wanted the Jewish woman from Palestine. She told them that there was no one else in the building and they finally left. The scene repeated itself twice more that night. At midnight they stopped coming. We did not sleep the whole night and the sounds of rioting could be heard for blocks.
The next day, my parents brought our valued Persian carpets upstairs. Things were quiet that day. My mother went down to prepare food and my father went to the grocery store to stock up. We slept at the neighbors every night for almost three and a half weeks.
Then, my father hired someone to smuggle us to Lebanon, where my mother’s parents lived. We crossed the border with an unbelievable sigh of relief. I will never forget that moment.
Three month later things seemed to be back in order. My mother, with a lot of courage, decided to go back to Aleppo to retrieve our belongings. Jewish males were being detained and imprisoned, so she went alone. She took along an expensive gift for our neighbor.
He received her very nicely and said, ”You, Mrs. D, and your family are very lucky.” She replied, “I know you saved our lives and this is a thank you gift.”
“You don’t understand,” he continued. “In the Koran, it says that after you receive and upkeep a guest for thirty days, you are allowed to slaughter them. You are lucky because you only stayed 28 days.”
Dr. Respler, we were very lucky to have Hashem watching over us and sending miracles our way. My family is incredibly grateful to Hashem and that is why I wanted to share our story.
Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us.
We often focus on the tragedies of the Holocaust; however, that should never come at the cost of forgetting the trauma experienced by Jews in other countries throughout the world. No matter how cultured or educated people may seem, anti-Semitism is real and non-Jews often hate us.
Today, that sort of hatred is widespread on college campuses and our young people are unfortunately experiencing it.
Your story is scary in the sense that your neighbors clearly put themselves at risk to save you and then made it clear that had you stayed a few more days they would have killed you all themselves.
We appreciate that you took the time to write this story and share it with our readers. We wish you hatzlacha in all your endeavors. May we all continue to be watched over and see yad Hashem in our lives!