Fatma grew up in an Arab village in the Galilee. For the first 18 years of her life, she had no idea she was Jewish.
Then one day, her mother gathered up her courage and told Fatma her story. Some 20 years earlier, she, a nice Jewish girl from Haifa, had fallen in love with one of her father’s workers, an Arab, and had run off with him and married.
She had regretted the move almost from the start, but had continued living her tragic life for the sake of her children. Now she wanted her daughter to know that she was Jewish. This came as a big shock to Fatma, and she decided to find out more, but the more she studied about Judaism, the more hostile her father and brothers became to her. It became so unbearable that they even began to abuse and beat her.
She escaped to a third-floor apartment where she hid out for a short time, but soon the family was on to her again and she saw no escape. At that moment, knowing that in Judaism sometimes one must give up his or her life, she decided to jump from the balcony, come what may. And knowing that a Jew recites some phrases before, but not knowing what, she cried out: “Sheacol nihiyeh bdvaro” – and jumped. Miraculously surviving and sustaining only a fractured jaw and a few broken teeth, she finally found her way to Rebbetzin Baranes and the women’s shelter, where she is today getting treatment and reconnecting to her people.