Photo Credit: Nati Shohat /Flash 90
Chanukiah (Illustration photo)

Jews in Arab lands that have no diplomatic ties to Israel nevertheless received information this year on how to celebrate the eight-day festival of lights, Hanukah, thanks to a special film dubbed in Arabic by Yad L’Achim and Yehaduton, a film company producing educational films for Jews translated into a variety of languages.

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In recent years, Yad L’Achim has been operating among Jews living in Arab countries and Arabic-speaking Jews around the world, alongside its extensive activities with Arabic-speaking Jews in refugee camps who were born to Jewish mothers and who yearn to reclaim their identity and connect to their people.

The organization provides them with information on Judaism in Arabic and with religious assistance of varying kinds – including Torah classes over the phone and packages with sacred objects needed for the holidays.

For Hanukah, Yad L’Achim and the Yehaduton Channel teamed up and recruited Arabic-speaking actors to provide dubbing for an educational film on the holiday.

The film explains why we celebrate the holiday, how to light the menorah (Chanukiya), what other customs are observed on the holiday, and more. Yad L’Achim distributed the film through the internet and sent it out to the hundreds of Jews it is in contact with, asking them to pass it on to other Jews.

At the same time, the organization delivered hundreds of Chanukah kits – through a third country – to Jews in lands that included Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Kurdistan. The kits include menorahs, the text of the blessings for candle-lighting, and more.

Amir, a member of Yad L’Achim’s Roots Department who speaks fluent Arabic, says that “Jews in Arab lands mostly live in fear and observe their Judaism in secret. We help some of them move to Israel, but we also help those who want to remain in their homelands and live as Jews in secret.

“We are always being called on to find creative ways to deliver kits that can’t be obtained in these countries. Sometimes it will be the four species for Sukkot, sometimes it’s Chanukiyot.”

“Our slogan, ‘We don’t give up on even a single Jew,’ explains why we make such supreme efforts to reach every Jewish man and woman who asks for our help to return to the Jewish people,” a senior Yad L’Achim official added.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.