Meet Yitzhak Rabin Namsy, a Jordanian Muslim who lives in Israel and is set to convert to Judaism.
Yitzhak Rabin Namsy is, by all appearances, a regular Israeli teenager. The 17-year-old wears a Jewish skullcap, keeps the Sabbath, and upholds many of the faith’s other commandments (mitzvot). Like many Israelis his age, he dreams of enlisting in the Israeli army and fighting as a combat soldier on behalf of the Jewish state. Yet there is nothing normal about Namsy’s life story, beginning with his first and middle names, given to him in memory of the former Israeli prime minister, who was assassinated in 1995 just a few months before the boy’s birth. Then there’s the fact that Yitzhak Rabin isn’t even officially Jewish, let alone Israeli, but a Jordanian Muslim. Forced to flee his country of birth when he was a baby, Yitzhak, along with his parents, has been living as an exile in Israel for nearly 16 years—all because of a name.
Yitzhak, entering first grade in central Israel, was picked on by kids in his class—“Arab-Israeli children, whose parents put thoughts in their heads,” Miriam recalled. There were issues, too, between Miriam and her Palestinian co-workers, who knew the family’s history. But the most tragic situation befell Miriam’s brother back in Jordan, who, according to Miriam, was murdered by a group of thugs as revenge for his nephew’s name. Miriam took Yitzhak to Jordan with the intention of attending her brother’s funeral, but, in her telling, a melee ensued at the border crossing, where a small group of protesters awaited them. She put Yitzhak, still a toddler, back on the bus to Israel, bruised and bleeding. It was the last time he would set foot on the soil of his native country.
Seeking a quieter existence away from the major Arab-Israeli population centers of northern and central Israel, the family moved down to Eilat, and have called the resort city on the Red Sea home for the past 11 years. Given everything that has transpired, it’s no surprise that Yitzhak has grown up wholly Israeli, surrounding himself with Jewish friends, speaking Hebrew, and adopting Judaism as his own (he is set to officially convert in the coming weeks).
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