Shoshana

The story of Shoshana and her brother is particularly special. From a personal and familial perspective it is more complex than what I am able to describe here, but her testimony is important because this is a testimony of what happened in institutions that trafficked in children. Because she was not taken by a foster family, she remained in such institutions until a late age, making her a most surprising witness in the matter. She was a bright and wide-eyed child who was successively paraded between child traffickers and surrounded by Yemeni children who came and went.

She was taken from her mother right after her birth along with her twin brother in the government hospital in Tzrifin that was mentioned in Dr. Lichtig’s memorandum. Until the age of seven they stayed in a Women's International Zionist Organization’s institution in Jerusalem. There, among many Yemeni children, she constantly saw beds emptied and then filled by new arrivals of children. For the most part, the children were left alone in their rooms until war sirens caused them to be taken downstairs to the bomb shelters where she learned, much to her surprise, that light-skinned children stayed at the place as well. She never saw adults come there except for the staff in charge who were all white; and she never heard the words “mother” or “father” from the mouths of the children.

At the age of seven or so, she was taken with her twin brother to Agudat Yisrael’s Gur Aryeh institution in Bnei Brak. Again in this institution, all of the children were of Yemenite origins, she tells, and continues with a shocking description: occasionally, they would arrange the children in a line in one of the rooms – usually in the one that was used as a prayer room – and the door would open. “The Aunties from America,” as the children called them, would enter. They spoke in a foreign language. One by one, in turn, the girls would be called up to the Aunties and the counselors who would examine them up close. Afterward each girl would return to her place in line. Boys and girls would disappear from the institution, she tells. It was only in those years it that they became aware that her biological family exists, and that her biological mother passed away five years after giving her birth. It is not inconceivable that she died of sorrow because she never saw her twins that she gave birth to. Shoshana refused to expose anything beyond this: this is an open wound, as she had reiterated. More than sixty years later, for her and for many like her, this is still a living and painful trauma.

Shlomi Hatuka

occasionally, they would arrange the children in a line in one of the rooms – usually in the one that was used as a prayer room – and the door would open. “The Aunties from America,” as the children called them, would enter. They spoke in a foreign language. One by one, in turn, the girls would be called up to the Aunties and the counselors who would examine them up close. Afterward each girl would return to her place in line. Boys and girls would disappear from the institution, she tells.