Frum Jew In US Saves 4 Afghan Siblings, Members Of Womens’ Soccer Team

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Photo credit: HAMODIA

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When Rabbi Moshe Margaretten of the Tzedek Association heard about four siblings in Afghanistan who needed help, he decided to take action.

Suneeta, an Afghan woman living in the US since 2018, has four children under 18 living alone in Afghanistan. Suneeta’s husband, who worked as an interpreter for the US army, disappeared eight years ago and is presumed to have been taken and killed by the Taliban. After her husband’s disappearance, Suneeta fled with her children to Pakistan but her children were later kidnapped by her brother-in-law who took them back to Afghanistan to her late husband’s family.

When the Taliban gained control over Afghanistan, Suneeta feared that her children would be targeted by the Taliban. She had been trying to bring the children to the US for years but although the US approved the entry of the children as refugees in 2020, she was unable to obtain visas for them.

Sara Lowry, an attorney for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants who has been assisting Suneeta, told CNN: “We’re just terrified that we’re not going to be able to get these children out. If there are other countries that are willing to go get them, if there are journalists still in the city that are willing to be an escort for them, we are appealing … to everyone, everywhere, please help us.”

Margaretten, a resident of Monsey, decided to answer Lowry’s plea, he told Hamodia in an interview on Friday. After several unsuccessful attempts at reaching Lowry, he finally spoke to her on Thursday.

“I asked if she has any contact with the kids,” Margaretten told Hamodia. “She located the kids, and our people on the ground made a connection with them.”

The report explained that Margaretten’s “people on the ground” are a group of former U.S. Delta Force officers and allied Afghans. The group was formed by Margaretten and Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American New Jersey-based businessman who in the past helped bring Syrians wounded in the country’s civil war to Israeli hospitals to receive medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Margaretten made a round of calls to frum ba’alei tzedaka and within 24 hours managed to raise $100,000 for the rescue operation. He then appealed to the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the White House, who quickly arranged visas for the children.

By Thursday night, the children were aboard a government rescue flight to Qatar and eventually boarded a connecting flight to New York to reunite with their very grateful mother.

“So many people have been desperately calling us, crying for help to get people out of Afghanistan,” says Margaretten. “We want to help everyone we can, but we are doing it order of the highest risk and most vulnerable, which these young kids certainly were.”

The rescue was the second Afghani operation for Margaretten and Kahana. Previously, Margaretten raised $80,000 from his frum contacts and wired it to Kahana, who coordinated the rescue of Afghan women in danger of being targeted by the Taliban, including four members of Afghanistan’s national women’s soccer team and female judges and prosecutors and their families.

Khalida Popal, the former captain of the national women’s soccer team who now lives in Denmark and is coordinating efforts to rescue the team members, thanked Margaretten’s nonprofit, Tzedek Association, on Twitter on Thursday afternoon,

“Thank you @Tzedek_Assoc for your incredible help w/ this life-saving rescue effort, including coordination to the airport and other routes, and political connections,” she wrote. “Together we are saving lives!”

Margaretten and Kahana aren’t stopping yet. They are continuing efforts to rescue Afghans at risk of being targeted by the Taliban.

“I feel this is my duty, especially as a Jew,” Margaretten says. “Our ancestors went through similar situations so many times, having to flee persecution. Our sages say that if one saves a life, it is as if he has saved the entire world. We are using all our energy, resources and connections to save as many lives as possible.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


25 COMMENTS

  1. What a zechus!
    This is the only good news I have heard out of this whole parsha.
    May Hashem bless Moshe and his family with a healthy, good year.

  2. this seems more than wonky to me. hundred of bne-torah charedim struggling to simply exist with all sorts of difficulties etc, and here this man raised $180,000 in no time at all for these purposes. is that how tzedoko should be spent! much more can be said. i don’t think hatzolos nefoshos is a justified answer!

  3. I was not aware that pidyon shevuyim applies in a case like this, pardon my ignorance.

    Who is the posek for this guy? Does he ask a posek of stature, or just does what he thinks will be good P.R.?

    “I feel this is my duty, especially as a Jew….”

    That sounds like a statement coming from Reform leaders. A frum Yid is supposed to be guided by halacha however.

    צרכי עמך מרובים ודעתם קצרה

  4. What about so many poor Jews and kids who are orphaned from their parents because of Covid. If you want to bring goyim then bring Chinese who don’t hate Jews.

  5. I’m not saying my position on whether this was a Kiddush Hashem or rather a misdirection of the innate feeling Hashem created us with, the yearning to help another yid in need (see rashi sanhedrin 76b d”h vihamachzir on the posuk in this weeks parsha!) but one thing I must speak up and say is – NEVER repeat the words of chazal incorrectly! Our sages DO NOT say that if one saves a life, it is as if he has saved the entire world. Our sages say that if one saves a JEWISH life, it is as if he has saved the entire world! And to Yeshiva world and any media outlet publicizing this: Please speak to your local Rabbi before publicizing that what may seem to be the greatest kiddush Hashem may in fact just be a chillul Hashem. It ain’t always what it seems. That’s why Hashem gave us the Torah!

  6. And as time goes on and the next battle breaks out between Israel and some Arab states or groups, you know who to blame as American Moslem youth attack heimisha in the diamond center or boro park. Don’t cry anti Semitism when you import these devils.

  7. There are Frum rich people who unfortunately won’t give to Aniyim, Almanos, or Yesomim too fast and definitely not to Yeshivos. These same people will happily give for this cause, so let Rabbi Margaretten take advantage of that. There’s no doubt that this is great PR, and that is enough to make it a Mitzva in these times, as long as it isn’t straight out Assur, a question which is beyond the scope of a YWN news story and surely way beyond the “expertise” of the commenters.

  8. Yontchi: “and yes In halocho it does say one should sell a Sefer Torah for Pidyon Shvuyim without any dikdukim”

    Okay, start selling them, Margaretten can lead the way if he paskened that this is pidyon shvuyim.

  9. Wonderful job! I easily found his organization’s website and am planning on donating.

    The organization also played an important role in passing federal criminal justice legislation during the Trump administration. I hope they update their website so we have more information about the organization’s current activities.

    See Ramak’s Tomer Devorah ch. 3 on the importance of Jews having compassion on all God’s creatures and doing acts of kindness for them.

  10. I see broken families who are orphaned collecting just for food and clothing. Sweet frum families. And here we have idiots in Williamsburg donating to people who hate us. Next time someone comes knocking for a donation I will send him to moshe margarreten.