Readers were shocked this month to read the news of a group of Israeli girls who were tricked into travelling with a suitcase containing goods which are legal in Israel but illegal in many other countries. When the girls arrived in Bulgaria, they were rushed by police, and taken to jail. As the days passed and they had not heard from their daughters, their respective families began to panic. It was only after two weeks in jail that 22-year-old Rivka Zuaretz was able to make her allotted 3-minute call to her parents. Rivka was in hysterics: None of the prison guards spoke Hebrew, she had no access to kosher food, she was surrounded by violent inmates, and the prosecution was seeking a shocking 15 years.
The girls’ families immediately scrambled to try to rescue them from mortal danger. Rivka’s friend Batel Peretz made headlines just last week, as her family rallied for her release. As Batel has begun to see a glimmer of hope, however, Rivka has tragically been left behind.
Her parents are an average Israeli couple of modest means. Father Ziv is a teacher, and mother Tali is a cook. They have hired a lawyer who specializes in similar cases but the expenses are far beyond their means. Rivka’s emergency fun paints a harrowing picture:
“They are keeping Rivka in a horrible, horrible place, surrounded by violent criminals. They know she is Israeli & Jewish and they hate her for it. She calls me from the jail crying with fear and I have no way to honestly tell her that she can come home soon. She is just a sweet young girl from a religious family, who made a silly mistake in trusting someone who was deceiving her, and who now is being tormented for it.”
22-year-old Rivka was just getting started in life. She had just finished a course and begun to work as a professional makeup artist. Now, just as she began to come into her potential as a young adult, her family worries her life has come to its tragic end.
Those who are able to contribute to do the mitzvah of “pidyon shvuyim” (releasing a Jewish captive) can do so via the family’s fund.