Yad L'Achim (Hebrew: יד לאחים, "hand for brothers") is an Orthodox Jewish organization operating in Israel focusing on outreach, counter-missionary work, and opposition to interfaith marriage. Yad L'Achim is made up of both paid staff and volunteers, and is largely supported by donations both from Israel and the Diaspora.
Yad L'Achim was formed in 1950 with the stated goal of "helping new immigrants to the newly-born country to find a suitable religious framework". Over time, the founders were disturbed by emerging missionary efforts[who?] in the new State, and then later by assimilation[where?]. It then shifted a major part of its activities to combatting these two issues." Yad L'Achim has other departments as well, including one devoted to the spiritual absorption[where?] of immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States, and one that helps enroll children in religious schools.
Yad L'Achim adheres to Haredi Judaism.
Yad L'Achim's main focus is counter-missionary opposition to efforts to convert Jews to Christianity. Yad L'Achim claims that over 100 missionary congregations and cults are currently active in Israel. The Israel government cooperates to some degree with Yad L'Achim in discouraging proselytizing, which is technically legal unless a minor is targeted without parental consent.
Opposition to Arab-Jewish marriages
Yad L'Achim aims to rescue Jewish women and children in abusive relationships with Arabs. They respond to requests from the women themselves, or concerned family members. Since its inception, it has rescued thousands of women and children from situations of abuse. The organization also provides shelter for the women and children after rescue.
In 2010 Yad L'Achim helped rescue an Israeli woman and her four children from her abusive husband. Her family had contacted Yad L'Achim after she spoke to them from Gaza complaining about her husband's abusive and violent behavior. In 2019, the organization helped reunite an Israeli woman with her son who was abducted as a child by his Palestinian father 30 years prior.
Harassment of Christian missionaries in Israel
Christian missionaries in Israel have repeatedly complained of being persecuted, harassed, threatened, and attacked by Yad L'Achim and a similar group, Lev L'Achim. These complaints, as well as slow response time by the authorities, is a continued matter of concern to the U.S. State Department, as described in their Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Israel, and repeatedly in the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor's annual International Religious Freedom Report, most recently in the 2009 report.
The State Department notes in its 2001 report, however, that the negativity toward proselytizing of Israeli Jews goes beyond that towards Yad L'Achim:
- "Societal attitudes toward missionary activities and conversion generally are negative. Israeli Jews frequently are opposed to missionary activity directed at Jews and occasionally are hostile toward Jewish converts to Christianity. Such attitudes often are attributed to the frequent periods in Jewish history in which Jews were coerced to convert to Christianity."
Jehovah's Witnesses filed over 120 complaints about instances of harassment by Jewish groups during 1998 and 1999; yet, there have been no indictments or prosecutions. At the same time, a member of the Jehovah's Witness was arrested and charged with "offending religious sensitivity" for distributing religious literature at Tel Aviv's bus station on March 1, 1999. The complainant was a Yad L'achim member. The Jehovah's Witness claimed he was being singled out for prosecution because he had filed five complaints against Yad L'achim.
- Yad L'Achim's About our Staff page
- From the Yad L'Achim website, background page.
- "Israel and the Occupied Territories". U.S. State Department. Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Call for Pope to Reveal Hidden Holocaust Children
- Gontarz, Nir (22 December 2018). "The Israeli Charity 'Helping' Jewish Women in 'Arab Captivity'". Haaretz. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
- Chernick, Ilanit (1 December 2019). "Jewish woman saved by Yad L'Achim to tell her story for the first time". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
- Azoulay, Yuval (10 February 2010). "Suspected Jewish Terrorist Admits to Anti-missionary Activities". Haaretz. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
- Ben-Zur, Raanan (Jan 12, 2010). "Israeli woman escapes abusive Gaza husband". ynetnews. Retrieved Nov 13, 2019.
- Winer, Stuart (2 January 2020). "Palestinian from Gaza reunited with Jewish Israeli mother after 30 years". Times of Israel. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
- "Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Israel". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2009: Israel and the occupied territories Released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
- "U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2001: Israel and the occupied territories". US Department of State.
- "U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Israel". US Department of State.