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Survivor From the Holocaust Converted to Islam and Married a Palestinian

Leila Jabarin (Helen Brashatsky)

A Holocaust survivor by the name of Helen Brashatsky (Leila Jabarin) who arrived in mandate Palestine in 1948, married a Palestinian and converted to Islam.(h/t:MasterQ)

Quite a fascinating story, AlJazeera Arabic has an interesting article in Arabic about her being denied the payments that Holocaust survivors received because she converted to Islam: Survivor From the Holocaust, Converted to Islam and Married a Palestinian.(h/t: ArabAtheist)

She likely would be an excellent individual to educate children on the consequences of hate and genocide. Her story would also help dispel Holocaust denial:

Holocaust survivor finds haven as Muslim in Israel

UMM EL-FAHM, Israel — For more than five decades, Leila Jabarin hid her secret from her Muslim children and grandchildren — that she was a Jewish Holocaust survivor born in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Although her family knew she was a Jewish convert, none of them knew of her brutal past.

It was only in the past week that Jabarin, who was born Helen Brashatsky, finally sat down and told them the story of how she was born inside Auschwitz, the most notorious symbol of Nazi Germany’s wartime campaign of genocide against Europe’s Jews.

In an interview with AFP to mark Holocaust Memorial Day which begins at sundown on Wednesday, Jabarin, now 70, chuckles as she talks about what to call her.

Her Muslim name is Leila, but in this Arab town in northern Israel where she has lived for the past 52 years, most people call her Umm Raja, Arabic for “Raja’s mother” after her first-born son.

Like most Jewish children, she also has a Hebrew name — Leah — but she just likes to be called Helen.

She was six when she came to live in Mandate Palestine with her parents, just months before the State of Israel was declared in May 1948.

They arrived in a ship carrying Jewish immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, which was forced to anchor off the coast of Haifa for a week due to a heavy British bombardment of the northern port city, she says.

Despite the war which broke out as soon as the British pulled out, it was a far cry from the savage reality the family had witnessed inside Auschwitz, says Jabarin who is dressed in a hijab and long robes, but whose pale skin and blue eyes belie her Eastern European parentage.

Her mother, who was from Hungary, and her father, who was of Russian descent, were living in Yugoslavia when they were sent to the Auschwitz with their two young sons in 1941.

“When they took them to Auschwitz, she was pregnant with me, and when she gave birth, the Christian doctor at Auschwitz hid me in bath towels,” she says, explaining how the doctor hid the family for three years under the floor of his house inside the camp.

Her mother worked as a maid at the doctor’s home, while her father was the gardener.

“They used to come back at night and sleep under the floor and my mother used to tell us how the Nazis were killing children, but that this doctor saved us,” she says, recalling how her mother used to feed them on dry bread soaked in hot water with salt.

“I still remember the black and white striped pyjamas and remember terrible beatings in the camp. If I was healthy enough, I would have gone back to see it but I have already had four heart attacks.

“It is scary and very, very difficult to remember that place where so many people suffered,” she admits, speaking in a mix of Hebrew and accented Arabic.

She also speaks Hungarian, a little Yiddish and some Russian.

The family were finally freed when the camp was liberated in 1945 and left for Mandate Palestine three years later.

At first, the new immigrants were put in camps at Atlit, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Haifa, but two years later, they moved further south to Holon and then to Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv.

Ten years later, when she was 17, Helen Brashatsky eloped with a young Arab man called Ahmed Jabarin, and they moved to live in Umm al-Fahm, which caused a huge split with her family.

“She ran away with me and she was 17 when we got married,” her husband says. “The Israeli authorities used to come to Umm al-Fahm and take her back to her family in Ramat Gan, then she would come straight back here.”

Initially, her family did not speak to her for two years, but later they were reconciled.

In the end, it was her mother who suggested she convert to Islam when her eldest son turned 18 and was asked to do his compulsory military service.

“My mother advised me not to send my son to do military service because if he did, my daughter would also have to do it.

“She said I should convert to Islam to save my daughter from serving in the army because Muslims would not let a girl live away from home on an army camp.”

So she converted.

But she never told her family the full extent of her history.

“I hid my pain for 52 years and the truth about my past from my eight children and my 31 grandchildren. I hid the fact that I was born in Auschwitz and what that painful past means.

“I was just waiting for the right moment to tell them.”

The moment came several days ago when a man turned up from the Israeli social services and got talking to her about her past, just days before the annual ceremonies remembering the Holocaust.

“Whenever it is Holocaust Memorial Day, I cry alone. There are no words to describe the pain that I feel. How can children eat dry bread soaked in water? If this happened to my children, I don’t know what would become of me.”

For her family, the revelation was a huge shock — but it answered a lot of questions, admits her 33-year-old son Nader Jabarin.

“Mum used to cry on Holocaust Memorial Day watching all the ceremonies on Israeli television. We never understood why. We all used to get out of the way and leave her alone in the house,” he told AFP.

But by telling her long-kept secret, it had brought release to both her and her family, he said.

“We understand her a bit more now.”

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  • isaak

    Why she didnt married Waffen SS or simple SS servisman ?

  • Yossi


    When the genocidal maniacs Hezbollah started a war, killing their own too. The woman who was killed was a Tatar, the wife of a RUssian olim, like Helen, but who cares who dies, SPIT

  • Anj

    The lady is surely blessed.
    How sh*t out of luck do you have to be to be born in aushwitz? Then to survive that.
    Only to go to modern day Israel and fall for a Muslim palistinian. Then to survive that.
    Only for the [snipped] to use her grand children as target practice.
    what an eventful life!

  • Abdul-Rahman
  • Abdul-Rahman

    What I meant in my conclusion is that the US and “Israel” were huge supporters of the Apartheid rulers of South Africa

    Nelson Mandela is also a strong supporter of Palestinian freedom.

  • Abdul-Rahman


    The Zionists use the Holocaust as their main excuse for their actions as Norman Finkelstein and others have shown. Also what you term “denial” or “minimize” are most often people responding to the insanity that is the Zionist school of thought called “Holocaust Uniqueness” which is a fascist propaganda attempt to absurdly claim that the only act of genocide in human history was done by the Nazis during WWII. And not just that these Jewish extremist “Holocaust Uniqueness” frauds also don’t want any attention paid to say Gypsies during WWII. They have gone as fair as to say that Gypsy deaths during WWII are supposedly “not part of the Holocaust” (even though a higher percentage of the overall Gypsy population was killed by the Nazis, then the overall Jewish population of Europe).

    An American Jewish academic Professor David Stannard (who is most famoous for his writing “American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World”, where Professor David Stannard argues that the holocaust against the Native Americans killed over 100 million Indigenous across Mesoamerica and was the largest act of genocide in human history) is famous for refuting these absurd “Holocaust Uniqueness” individuals in his essay “Uniqueness as Denial: The Politics of Genocide Scholarship”.

    Then as for what I’m guessing you also term “holocaust denial”, it mostly consists of people noting the hypocrisy in “free speech” the West and Europe in particular show when they allow anti-Muslim cartoons to be published as a form of “free speech” but then lock up “holocaust revisionists” for daring to state their views whether one agrees with them or not (and these “revisionists” never are claiming the Nazis didn’t kill massive amounts of people including Jews, they just question the existence of a supposed plan to “exterminate” when Jews and other prisoners in the concentration camps were crucial slave labor for the German war effort). For example President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (“wiped off the map” myth refuted here) clarified what he said

    “ ‘There are many historical events, similar historical events. Why is this one in particular so important to you?… During World War II, 60 million people were killed. Why are we just focusing on this special group alone?’ Ahmadinejad asked in an interview with CBS

    ‘All of them were human beings. And it doesn’t matter whether they were Christians or Jews or Buddhists or Muslims. They were killed. So, we’re sorry for everyone,’ said Ahmadinejad.

    Ahmadinejad said since the beginning of the Israeli occupation, over 5 million Palestinians have become refugees.

    ‘Why is the Holocaust used as a pretext to usurp the land of other people? Why should the Palestinian people give their lives up for it? Who is the occupier here? The United Nations resolutions condemn which occupying regime?’ he asked.

    ‘What fair-minded person can accept that an event that happened in Europe [results] in having his or her land occupied elsewhere in the world?

    ‘Unfortunately Western politicians refuse to answer these questions and egress into other areas… We see the Holocaust as a pretext to commit genocide against the Palestinian people.’ ”

    So he and other people are saying why are the Zionists being allowed to use things that happened in WWII as propaganda to try to justify their occupation of the land of Filistin (Palestine).

    And finally since you brought up Apartheid South Africa, it should be noted by the US government and the Zionist entity were strong supports of the Apartheid South African rulers right up to the very last moments that anybody could voice public support for the South African racist Apartheid authorities.

  • Skeptic


    Yes the moment the arab holocaust denial minimizes/stops, more people around the world will support the muslim side just like how people supported the black south africans during the apartheid era.

  • black human

    Wow man, unique story in humanity!

  • Pamela

    Muslims and Jews are from the same Father and thus related,

  • DrM


    Well said. Only idiots deny the Holocaust. Nakba denying Zionist trash take note.

  • CriticalDragon1177


    Glad she survived and I’m glad that she was able to get beyond whatever prejudice she may have had herself. I hope she is able to heal wounds between the two cultures. She may also help dispel the Holocaust never really happened myth peddled by so many Neo Nazis. Off course “counter jihadists” won’t like this, since it also doesn’t support the myths they’re spreading about Muslims and Islam. Maybe she’ll also be able to fight anti Muslim bigotry as well as anti Jewish bigotry.

  • JT

    This is a good way to tell certain Muslims that they shouldn’t engage in Holocaust denial. They are denying the suffering of millions of people out of hatred for Israel.

  • BuddhaShrink

    Love has no boundaries.

  • Trudy

    We Are ONE… no matter what

  • mjasghar

    the cynet article has some disgusting comments.
    BTW is Israel effectively saying that being Jewish is purely religious and NOT racial? This story certainly suggests you can leave Judaisim permanently, yet so much proIsraeli pro Zionism is based on the racial element.
    Certainly there are a LOT of atheists in Israel who see themselves as racially Jewish only.

  • mindy1

    Amazing survival story :O

  • TheBig-T

    wow wonderful story,love is truly blind

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