Aged care residents celebrate first ever Bar and Bat Mitzvahs

December 14, 2015 by Ayal Tusia
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Jewish Care Victoria has hosted a special Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony for 75 of its aged care residents who had never celebrated this religious milestone.

Barmitzvah time

Barmitzvah time

Over 300 people attended the ceremony in Melbourne at Gary Smorgon House, Caulfield, where residents’ families and friends; fellow residents and the Jewish Care community watched their loved ones take part in this emotional and inspiring occasion. Held on the seventh day of Chanukah, the festivities included a synagogue service with Dov Farkas leading the proceedings, singing, dancing and a brunch.

Welcoming hands

Welcoming hands

Believed to be the first ceremony of its kind in Australia, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration was held because many of Jewish Care’s residents missed out on this significant life event due to reasons such as living through times of war and communist rule.

“The war was definitely the number one factor as to why they didn’t celebrate [their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs] properly,” Jewish Care’s Rabbi Nerenberg said.

He also described the event as “meaningful and moving.”

The ages of those participating were 80’s and 90’s with the oldest resident at 99 years old.

92-year-old Bat Mitzvah participant and Gary Smorgon House resident, Adel Justin addressed the crowd about her tumultuous childhood in Europe, where her family had to escape Poland during World War II.

Meeting the torah

Meeting the torah

She explained how the Rabbi invited her two weeks ago to participate in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony. She replied: “Rabbi, I’m in it, it’s a good idea, but you know you’re taking me back 80 years, it will be a long journey – a journey of memories, and very emotional.”

Cantor Dov Farkas leads the service

Cantor Dov Farkas leads the service

Rabbi Nerenberg said that it was the second Bar Mitzvah for another aged care resident, Maurice Minski. Just hours into his first Bar Mitzvah at 13 years old, the Nazis invaded his town and took his parents away. He never saw or heard from them again.

Leor Broh from Beit HaRoeh, Mizrachi Melbourne, also spoke about the significance and importance of Jewish identity and how such an event allowed those to now practise what they were once denied because of the Holocaust and persecution.






2 Responses to “Aged care residents celebrate first ever Bar and Bat Mitzvahs”
  1. Jack Strom says:

    Can you please advise how I can obtain a high resolution copy of a photo of my mother that as appeared in the article?

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