Daughter of Miriam and Saleh (Zadok) Hillel (Habani)

I’d like to talk about some incidences that my family and I experienced following our immigration from Yemen. My sister was kidnapped right after birth here at the Hadassah hospital in Tel Aviv, a kidnapping that remains unanswered to this day, and is an open wound for my family, as we have remained with many open questions.

In late 1948 my parents, Miriam and Saleh Hillel, immigrated from Yemen along with my 3 brothers and I. Four years after their immigration, in 1952, mom gave birth at the Hadassah hospital in Tel Aviv to a sweet baby girl who was to become part of the family.

During the first three days after the delivery, my mother was told every day anew, that she must go home and return the next day to nurse the newborn baby. On the third day when the mother arrived at the hospital to nurse her baby, the doctors told her that the baby was dead. My mom didn’t believe them, she said the girl was healthy and that she wanted to see her, but the doctors insisted and told her to go home.

When mom returned home crying, she told our family the doctors had told her that the baby was dead. She told us that she doesn’t believe the doctors, because the baby was born big and healthy. She knew her daughter was not dead, but didn’t know what to do. In those days, a family didn’t have the ability to fight and trace the child. We had to survive, to deal with the difficulties of day-to-day reality, and as immigrants from Yemen, we had to deal with the language barrier. All faith in the hospital was over and done with, and the two children who were born afterwards were delivered by my mother at home, because she was afraid they would take her babies. Both births went well, thank god, and the children were born healthy and sound.

22 years after the girl’s kidnapping, I was working as a truck driver and was supposed to unload a carpet at a store on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv. I was amazed and excited when I saw the clerk working there, who bore a striking resemblance to my sister Matty who had immigrated with me in 1948. I asked the clerk if she was Yemenite and she said yes. I then asked her if she was adopted and she also said yes. I was very excited and told her she looks just like my sister. I went home and told my family about the clerk, whom I was certain was my sister, and told my sister Matty that she had to go there and meet her sister.

The next day, my sister Matty and her husband drove to Ben Yehuda Street and met with the clerk who looked very much like her. They discovered that the clerk is at the same age as their sister and asked her to look into it with them. They were positive that she was the kidnapped sister, because she was an adopted Yemenite girl who resembled Matty very much and was at the right age. The clerk did not want to investigate the truth about her family and didn’t want to have any contact with the people who had arrived to the store where she worked. Matty and her husband suggested she take their cell phone number so that she could get in touch with them if she changed her mind, but she refused to that as well.

My parents had a child taken from them, and I a little sister. It cannot be taken lightly, how can it be that a child who was born healthy disappears from the Hadassah hospital 3 days later? If she had truly passed away, where was her body or death certificate? Something here is not right. The truth is important and must be revealed, somebody needs to answer this family’s questions. Who is responsible for the girl’s disappearance? Why and where was she taken?

To this day I regret not going to the hospital the day my mother returned home from the hospital, I should have gone looking for her. It’s an open wound for me and I want to trace my sister and find out what happened to her.

If you are reading this letter and think you are my sister, please contact the family.