The woman on the other end of the line was hysterical. She had just gotten word that her daughter was leaving home the next morning to live with an Arab, and was calling the Yad L’Achim hotline for help.
“We are a religious family and this hit us like a bombshell,” cried the woman, who lives in northern Israel. “Our world is destroyed. Save us from this mess.”
In the ensuing conversation, the staffer manning the hotline learned that the daughter had just revealed to her parents that she’d been dating an Arab for the past five years and planned on moving in with him the following day.
The staffer urged the woman not to act hastily, not to say or do anything she was likely to regret. She promised to send a specially trained Yad L’Achim social worker to the family’s home early the next morning to counsel them and their daughter.
That night the parents didn’t get a wink of sleep as they monitored the front door to make sure their daughter didn’t leave early. In the morning, they told her that a Yad L’Achim social worker was on the way to meet with her, but she became furious and adamantly refused to attend any such meeting.
When the social worker arrived, she was greeted by screaming from inside the apartment that could be heard in the stairwell. “I’m not prepared to have you involve outsiders,” the daughter yelled. “I will not speak to her under any circumstances!”
When the social worker entered the apartment, the daughter quickly disappeared into her room, covering her head with a blanket and insisting that she’d allow no one to get near her.
Unflustered by the chaotic scene, the social worker sat in the living room and calmly spoke with the mother. She explained that the daughter’s determined stance was a result of distress, and that her primary interest was in leaving a bad situation at home, not in moving in with an Arab.
After a long talk, with the daughter obviously listening from her room, the door opened and the young woman agreed to allow the social worker in.
After a long heart-to-heart talk, the girl burst into tears, sharing the difficulties she was enduring at home. She said her only way to escape was to move in with the Arab boyfriend who had promised to pamper her.
They continued talking for hours, with the social worker explaining that such relationships end in disaster. The daughter responded that she wasn’t willing to remain at home even one more night. While this was painful for the mother to hear, the social worker was able to make her understand that it was in the best interest of her daughter that she go along with the request.
The mother finally accepted that it was preferable for her daughter to move out and get back on a healthy track than to remain at home against her will and deteriorate, or run away to the Arab at the first opportunity.
That very night the girl was transferred to a family in the community of Naveh, as a stopgap. She is now undergoing a process of rehabilitation at “Hachut Hameshulash,” an institution in Jerusalem that serves as a warm home for such girls.
She has severed her contact with the Arab.
She can’t thank Yad L’Achim staffers enough for arriving at her home at just the right moment. “It turns out that all I really wanted was a calm setting,” she said. “I’m happy and at the same time rebuilding my relationship with my parents.”