Left behind the Veil

In a poem Rachel Avraham wrote in honor of Jewish Refugee Day, which Israel is commemorating today in order to remember the Jews that were either expelled or compelled to leave Arab countries, Rachel Avraham writes about the fate of her husband's relative, who was abducted, raped and forced to marry a Muslim.
The story behind a Moroccan Jewish woman who was abducted, raped and forced to marry a Muslim Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

I was tender and I was young, with long flowing black hair;
My family was not wealthy but had the warmth of a teddy bear;
We lived and we learned, always striving to know more;
Till one day, none of this was anymore;
I am the Jewish girl you left behind the veil;

One day, I was taken away by evil men;
Who prevented me from ever seeing my family again;
They forced me to follow the ways of the Islam;
And placed me in the harem;
I am the Jewish girl you left behind the veil;

All of my family left for Israel and France except me;
There, they had families and lived the Jewish dream;
As I was far away and constantly raped throughout my life;
My fate till the end of my days was to be under the constant threat of the knife;
I am the Jewish girl you left behind the veil;

Dear God, I pray for justice in the afterlife;
For in Morocco, justice does not exist;
Any extremist Muslim can come in the middle of the night;
And to cause a Jewish girl sorrows even if she fights;
I am the Jewish girl you left behind the veil;
But in the end of times, I will return to my faith and my land;
To be reunited with my family once again!

Story Behind the Poem:

My husband’s mother Leah Avraham made Aliyah to Israel from Casablanca, Morocco when she was nine years old. Most of her family moved to Israel while some relatives decided to move to France instead. Almost no one in the family staid in Morocco because during that period of time, the situation in the country was similar to that of Israel during the Second Intifada. Bombs were exploding everywhere and supermarkets were blowing up as the Moroccans were revolting against the French. The Jews were victimized along with the French since they were perceived to be pro-French. As the uprising progressed, the situation only deteriorated for the Jews.

The situation had started to become bad for Moroccan Jews after Israel was declared to be a state. There were problems before that as well, as two relatives were murdered by Arabs and the family was not even able to retrieve the body for a proper Jewish burial. It was also common practice within the country to abduct young Jewish virgin girls, force them to become Muslim and to make them marry Muslims. This phenomenon forced Moroccan Jewish families to marry off the girls very young, which inhibited the young girls’ development.

But afterwards, it only got worse. In June 1948, bloody riots erupted in Oujda and Djerada, resulting in the death of 44 Moroccan Jews while many more were wounded. An unofficial boycott was initiated against the Moroccan Jewish community that same year. But as long as the French still controlled Morocco, the situation was tolerable even though it was not good.

This changed the second the French started to lose control. Following that, one of Leah’s relatives was almost murdered by Muslims. The only reason he was not killed is because a Muslim friend of his lied and stated that he was a Muslim from Fez rather than a Jew. Leah’s family understood that the situation was only going to get worse and left even though they were not allowed to take anything with them except for one suitcase. Everyone in the family left the country following this incident, except for one woman.

One relative of my husband’s mother was abducted, raped, and forced to become a Muslim. She was compelled to marry a Muslim against her will. As a result of this reality, she was not able to join the rest of her family in France and Israel. Due to the time that has passed, she is now most likely dead and the family lost touch with her. No one knows what became of her but we all assumed that she lived a horrible life and died in Morocco. She lived a life full of sorrow by being forced to leave behind the faith of her ancestors only to marry an abusive man who constantly raped her every day of her life. But in Judaism, we believe that in the End of Days, the souls of the Jewish dead will journey to Israel and be returned back to life. At that moment, she will be reunited with her family, her faith, and will get the justice that she deserves.

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