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Mom with a Mission

Barbara Bensoussan

Frum housewife-turned-activist Linda Sadacka and her band of “Moms on a Mitzvah” won’t rest until they do all they can to help fellow Jews

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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ACTION FIGURES Linda Sadacka is best known these days as the founder and leader of Moms on a Mitzvah, a low-profile yet immensely active group with a reputation for getting things done. Remember the campaign to petition the FDA to allow use of an experimental drug for Raphael Elisha? That was Linda and the Moms. Remember #BringBackOurBoys, the online campaign pressuring governments to recover Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel? That was also the Moms. And we’re not even touching on the hundreds of cases of medical issues, family issues, and community projects the Moms deal with every day

I n a different century, I could easily imagine Linda Sadacka as a suffragette on the order of Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins: a well-bred, well-dressed, fiery crusader for a cause, who’s also a devoted wife and mother. In her long swishy skirt and stylish top, Linda’s a combination of old fashioned and cutting edge, a Flatbush shaatra who rubs elbows with senators and celebrities. (shaatra: the Syrian equivalent of balabusta par excellence.)

Linda, now in her early forties, is best known these days as the founder and leader of Moms on a Mitzvah, a low-profile yet immensely active group with a reputation for getting things done. Remember the campaign to petition the FDA to allow use of an experimental drug for Raphael Elisha? That was Linda and the Moms. Remember #BringBackOurBoys, the online campaign pressuring governments to recover Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel? That was also the Moms. When the store Forever 21 began selling swastika-shaped costume jewelry, the Moms launched the media blitz that forced the store to withdraw them. And we’re not even touching on the hundreds of cases of medical issues, family issues, and community projects the Moms deal with every day.

The typical frum housewife isn’t a political activist, but Linda isn’t typical. Her political activism started even before she became religious, on the heels of a tragedy that changed her life forever.

The Making of an Activist

I meet Linda Sadacka née Argalgi in her home, a comfortable, spacious house whose décor reflects Linda’s taste for statement-making and the colorful accent. Linda has a dramatic look, with her raven-colored wig and startlingly bright-blue eyes. Both dynamic and determined, she’s able to switch into fun, bubbly mode, becoming the friend you love to schmooze with over coffee and cake.

Linda describes growing up as “the lone pita bread amid the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” of her mixed, partly Jewish neighborhood in Montreal. Her Lebanese father and Egyptian mother spoke Arabic and French at home, and were traditional if not fully observant; they sent Linda and her three siblings to a Talmud Torah and then Herzliah High School. (“It was the kind of school where they teach the girls Gemara. I was top of the class!” she says with a laugh.)

Linda’s brother had a friend, David Friedberg, who had become a ben bayis in their home. David’s older brother Jason (Yehoshua) had gone to Eretz Yisrael as a lone soldier, and in 1993 the terrible news came that he had gone missing while hitching a ride. Days went by, with no word from Jason.

 

“Finally, my brother decided he wanted to ask a psychic,” Linda recalls. “He gathered up some of Jason’s possessions, including a letter his sister had written to him asking him to come home. As he got up and declared, ‘We’re going to find him,’ someone turned on our television. And there, on the news, someone was reporting that Jason’s body had been found on the side of the road.”

Jason had been kidnapped, tortured, and killed execution-style by Arab terrorists. Linda’s brother Morris exploded in anguish, running out into the neighborhood and cursing at an Arab neighbor in his own language. Linda’s mother panicked. “Stop! I can’t lose you, too!” she cried, yelling back to the neighbor that her son was beside himself about something else. (Fortunately, the neighbor didn’t realize they were Jewish.)

Jason’s three murderers were caught, but eventually released in various prisoner exchanges (the last one as part of the exchange for Gilad Shalit). Linda was devastated by the tragedy. “I felt so helpless, so furious!” she says, her eyes tearing. “I became obsessed with Israel and saving Jews. It turned me into an ultra-right-wing activist.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 552)

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