I was born and raised in the city of Ramle. A few years back my parents became “baalei tshuva”, returning to their Jewish and religious roots. We started to become observant. Even though now I was going to a religious school, I still kept in touch with some of my former friends.
One day when I was feeling pretty down about something or another, I ran into a former friend After being with her for some time, we walked down one of the streets in the city when a car pulled up to us and its inhabitants asked if we wanted a lift. At first I refused, but being that my friend went in under their constant pressure, I eventually also went for a ride with them. It was there that I meet Yusuf. Yusuf told me right away that he was an Arab who lived in the town, and all I wanted to do was to get out of there, but something held me down and we talked.
The next day Yusuf followed me down a street, and before long we were talking. After seeing him for a few days, he told me how much he loved me and that he could not be without me. Yusuf was my first real boyfriend, and even though he was an Arab I kept telling myself that nothing serious will come from this and that we are only friends.
Well, it was not long before before we were going steady. He asked me not to talk to other guys and he would not talk to other girls. At that time I thought it was because he cared for me. He also told me that he liked when I dressed modestly.
After a while, I went to visit his parents. His mother just cursed me and the Jewish people, screamed at me and yelled at Yusuf why he was not marrying his cousin, which was already planned. Yusuf tried to defend me and kept putting off the marriage to his cousin.
He started talking badly against the Jews: how they do not listen to what is written in the Torah, and that they will lose the land. He got me to read the Koran, and I actually started to hate my own people. I would dress more and more like an Arab. When we heard about a bombing we would laugh about it.
Then the day came when Yusuf beat me. At first he was so sorry about it and promised not to do it again. All the while, he made me feel that I deserved it and had it coming to me. The beatings became more and more frequent, until they were a daily occurrence. The whole time, I tried to find favor in his eyes because I was sure I was doing something wrong and I deserved it.
It was at that point that my mother felt something was wrong with me and she told my sister, who had a talk with me, and I told her everything. She heard of Rebbetzin Baranes, whom she begged me to call. I did try once or twice to speak to her, but I never let her get close to me. She would come to Ramle at all hours of the day or night to try to reach me. Rebbetzin Baranes told me how much she loves me and cares. Still I carried on with Yusuf.
Yusuf wanted us to get married in a village out in the middle of nowhere. I knew that I would never come back from there and would become his slave, too scared to move anywhere – like thousands of other Jewish girls. The beatings continued, but I did not think I could live without him and I accepted a life of being a slave to him even though I knew that he would also marry his cousin, and then I would be a slave to her, too.
A few days before this was to take place, as usual I received another beating from Yusuf. This time, though, I had had enough and did not speak to him for a while. After he found me and promised not to beat me any more, at that very meeting with him he once again beat me. I know then that he would never change. And so I made up my mind to meet with Rebbetzin Baranes once again. It seems that no matter how many times I pushed the Rebbetzin off, she was always willing to come back for me
Now looking back, I cannot believe that I am that same girl. I have been living in the women’s hostel, learning a trade and getting my life back in order. When I settle down, there is no doubt how I want to live and what I want to dedicate my life to. I want to be another Rebbetzin Baranes.