From Khan Yunis to a Jewish wedding

Dor Shachar was born Ayman Subah in Khan Yunis, Gaza. He fled to Israel and converted. Last week he married Edith, also a convert of Hungari

Yehonatan Gottleib , 08/09/20 15:39 Share
Dor and Edith

Dor and Edith צילום: רבקה אוזן

A particularly exciting wedding took place last weekend on the beach of Rishon Lezion. The couple Dor and Edith Shachar, both converts, were married in accordance to Jewish law.

Shahar’s story begins more than 40 years ago, in Khan Yunis in Gaza, when his name was still Ayman Subah.

“I was born in Khan Yunis to a Palestinian family,” Shahar told Arutz Sheva. “I remember my five brothers and sisters, the three-floor building we shared with the entire family, with us on the second floor.”

“I remember myself at the age of six playing in the streets of Khan Yunis hiding from bigger boys or getting beaten up. There wasn’t anything besides that,” he says. “My dream was to go to school because I wanted to become a doctor.”

“Then school started and after some time, a very tall woman wearing a suit stepped into the classroom. The teacher announced that today, we would have a special lesson. I was very excited at the prospects of finally learning medicine.”

“The special lesson turned out to be a lesson in hating Jews. It started out like this: ‘The Jews are murderers; men, women and children. They took your grandparents’ land. It is permissible to fight them, and killing them is your religious duty. Whoever kills a Jew enters heaven and receives 72 virgins. Haifa and Jerusalem belonged to your forefathers and they belong to us. You must fight till the last drop of blood to get the land back. The Jews were once Muslims and some Muslims became infidels and became Jews and Christians and are allowed to be killed, because whoever does not believe in the religion of Muhammad is sentenced to death.'”

Shachar says his “soul is that of a Jew entrapped in the body of an Arab.” He says that after the lecture that day, he didn’t feel well and asked the teacher to use the bathroom. “The teacher immediately slapped me, saying that ‘in such a special class, you don’t leave the room.'”

“You can always see what is bothering a child. He picked me up and took me to the principal’s room and whispered something in his ear. The principal told me to walk around with my face to the wall and I had no idea what he was going to do to me. Then I felt a blow to the back. It was a rubber whip used for horses. An incredible shock of pain. Then he told me to go home and have my father accompany me to school the next day. I still have the scar from that beating. I came home crying.”

As the years went by, Shachar says he was “always out of luck,” constantly running away from school that taught hatred. At one point his father took him to work at his construction site. “At the age of 12 and a half I started working and planned that one day, my father would get up and not find me. I worked for three months, during which we would leave our homes on Sunday and stay in Israel till the weekend. One morning, when he woke up, I wasn’t there,” he recalls.

“I started working as a security guard,” he says. “Israeli Arabs would get the jobs and give it to the children. I watched over a neighborhood of villas where prospective tenants would come to see the apartments.”

Thanks to the job he found, Shachar found a man who later adopted him and accompanies him to this day. “One of them was religious, his name was Nissim Ozen,” he says. “He took interest in me. He brought me home with him, got me clothes, shoes, and whatnot. Even a stereo with a music disc.”

After a while, Ozen invited Shahar to a Passover Seder. Shachar describes his encounter with the Jewish holiday as a great surprise. “I lived on a construction site and when he moved into the new house he invited me for the holiday,” he said. “I did not know what the holiday was and my Hebrew was not good. He said it was Passover. He went and bought me white shirt pants. I came to him in the evening I see a long table, everyone in white, hallucinatory food on the tables, no bread and couscous and salads. He said To me we were slaves in Egypt for 400 years and today we are a free people, etc. “

This Passover was not only the first Jewish holiday he encountered, but also the first time he said out loud that he wanted to be a Jew. “I did not know Hebrew properly then, but what came out of my mouth was ‘I want to be a Jew,'” he said. “He (Nissim Ozen, 13) told me, ‘No, a Jew is born a Jew and remains a Jew. An Arab is born an Arab and remains an Arab.’ He did not convince me. I went to the neighbor after the meal and told her I wanted to be a Jew, so she told me to go to the rabbinate.”

Shachar did not know then what a rabbinate was, and after a long process of learning and inquiries, he finally converted with the help of Rabbi Tzafania Drori in Kiryat Shmona.

He met his wife Edith on Facebook. At first, after several unsuccessful attempts to contact her, he stopped trying. After a few days she contacted him and told him that she was not interested in getting to know him but maybe he could get to know one of her friends. “I told her I want to meet you,” but she politely declined. “After two hours she came back to me and told me she was ready to go on a date with me.” They finally went out together for about eleven months until, last weekend, they were wed.

“The rabbi told me to get married in the month of Elul, the month of mercy and forgiveness,” he said. “It was a stunning wedding. On the beach in Rishon Lezion, in collaboration with the municipality and the religious council of Rishon. It was a modest wedding, with family and close friends. My father is Nissim Ozen, my brothers are his sons.”

Shahar has no connection today with his biological family. He defines the Ozen family as his family. When asked if he would be interested in renewing the relationship with his family in the future, he replied: “The relationship with them does me no good. When the children are raised for hatred and not for love, I do not want such a relationship.”

In the future, Shahar wants to produce a film that tells the story of his life that begins in Khan Yunis, where he will tell “about the education at the school for murdering Jews, about the Palestinian prison with seven levels of hell, about what it is like to have a Jewish soul and boundless love.”

Tags: convert Khan Younis Wedding

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