How Our Palestinian Muslim Guest Got the Surprise of Her Life

How Our Palestinian Muslim Guest Got the Surprise of Her Life

Yesterday evening, right after the start of Yom HaShoah, we hosted a group of American tourists who are on a trip to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While here, they will be spending a few days meeting with Palestinians as well as Jews, like us.

When the group arrived, I stood by our front door welcoming each guest one by one, and when a woman named Muna, with a magical smile, introduced herself, I said, “Oh, your name is Muna! That sounds like “Emuna,” that’s a popular name here, in Hebrew it means faith.

“That’s interesting, Muna is an Arabic name, it means wishes.”

As the evening went on, I found out that Muna’s parents had lived in East Jerusalem, emigrated to Jordan in the 1960s, where Muna was born and lived until she moved to California 10 years ago.

Muna grew up as a Muslim, but in California, she shared, she met and married a man who introduced her to the various religious traditions that he came from–Christianity, Judaism, and Sufism.

Towards the end of evening, standing with Muna alone in the kitchen, I asked how it was that her husband was connected to so many different religions. She explained that her husband had grown up on a hippie Sufi commune in New York where his parents had been members. But his father had actually grown up Christian, and his mother Jewish.

“Oh! That means that your husband is Jewish too!”

“But he isn’t observant! He doesn’t live as a Jew. Only his mother was Jewish…”

“In Judaism,” I told Muna, “you can’t be half Jewish or a quarter Jewish. You are either 100% Jewish or 0% Jewish. So your husband is 100% Jewish! As Jewish as I am. As Jewish as my husband is.”

“Well,” Muna said, “if that is how you are defining things, then I am also Jewish…Because my great-great-grandmother was Jewish.”

“You mean your mother’s mother’s mother?”

Muna thought about it, and said, “Yes, my mother’s mother’s mother.”

“Muna, I have something to tell you. By Jewish law, you are 100% Jewish! You are a Jew!”

Looking stunned by this unexpected revelation, Muna reminded me that she doesn’t live as a Jew, so what does it mean that she is a Jew?

“It means that you have a Jewish soul. And the fact that you don’t live as a Jew doesn’t take that away one iota.”

“And what does it mean that I have a Jewish soul?” Muna asked, her eyes wide with wonder.

“It means that your soul is hungry for a connection with God, it’s hungry to connect with God through performing His mitzvot–like keeping Shabbat and the holidays and kosher…” and, giving her a big hug, I said, “Muna, we are sisters!”


I spend every Yom HaShoah in a fog of despair. How could such a horror befall 6 million Jews, as well as millions of others who loved them and grieve for them?

But Hashem sent us a gift, some comfort, this Yom HaShoah. A wonderful woman named Muna.


  1. It takes a special neshama to recognise and appreciate a hidden treasure of a neshama.

  2. Wouww, Wouwww, Wouwww – I agree,
    it really takes a special neshama to uncover such a jewel !

  3. May Hashem always give you the right words at the right time Jenny! Your straightforward explanantion about what it means to have a Jewish neshama is awesome and cuts through everything.

  4. you have the sweetest way of writing: never pushing an agenda, just giving over the information, which by the way always shot through with loving kindness.
    Continued hatzlocha. Your ‘sister” in Miami!

  5. Elisheva

    Reading this has really blessed and encouraged me!

  6. Mind-blowing!! Would love to hear what happens to Muna in the future. Amazing revelation!

  7. I am shaking from a recent incident where an US Lebanese woman called me to order modest swimwear. When she found out I was in Israel she told me that as a social worker and a teacher of tolerance she “cannot purchase from a company whose government supports the genocide of Palestinians”. Of course I was shocked – we disconected but I tracked her down on google. I’ve since written to her superiors in the Dearborn Public Schools and the US Dept of Education and a Law firm that supports her blog on Teaching Tolerance. Long story short she is lying to her superiors about contacting me. I want to take this all teh way but not sure who to turn to. She should be accountable for what she said. I dont want her poisening young minds with un-truths. I wonder if Muna, who IDs as a Palestinian, would care to share her insite. I am open to others opinions also. I am not even sure what my end game is except to shed some light about Israel and help protect other entrepreneurs from Israel, as well as Am Yisrael. I cannot just stand by and put my head in the sand or tail between my legs.

    • to marci rapp:
      good for you! you did the right thing. we have to “shed light” on the darkness. these antiSemites have to be exposed.
      you should go from strength to strength!

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