Pre-Pesach Programs Brings Bar and Bat Mitzvah Happiness to 120 children

April 21, 2016 Agencies
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In advance of the Pesach holiday, seventy Israeli Bar Mitzvah boys and forty Bat Mitzvah girls were invited to participate in a large celebration hosted by the Chesed Menachem Mendel program of the Colel Chabad charitable organisation. 

Bat Mitzvah

Bat Mitzvah

The common denominator uniting all these children was the painful reality that they had lost a parent to sickness or tragedy.  Colel Chabad is the oldest continuously operating charity in Israel, founded in 1788.

In a ceremony held at the Kotel, each Bar Mitzvah was presented a new set of Talit and Tefillin, the funds for which had been raised by private donors.  In addition to the tragic circumstances uniting the families, many of the families in attendance came from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds where the prospect of such a complete celebration would never have been possible.

The boys also received a new dress tie and kippa which they wore proudly as they were danced down from the Western Wall plaza to the Wall where they made the traditional blessing over the Torah for the first time.

While every effort was made to focus on the happiness of the day and leave the child’s pain aside, it was hard for some to take this important step without a father at their side.

Bar Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah

“My son, Uriel Betzalel, was born six months after his father died from an illness at age 32,” said Chava Tzofia Blum as she watched her son put on his tefillin. “Being a widow and mother of six children at such a young age is not an easy thing.  The support that Colel Chabad has given us over the years has been a lifesaver. The education scholarship given to those who maintain good grades has been the inspiration for my children to keep up with their studies.”

“I never got to meet my father and I wish I had him here,” said Uriel Betzalal. “The hardest part of not having a father is not having him with me to show me how to put on my tallit and tefillin like all my friends”.

Alongside the kotel ceremony, 40 bat mitzvah girls and their families also were partaking in the celebrations .The girls were invited to participate in a hafrashat challah activity, learning about the significance of the weekly ritual of challah preparation that takes place in Jewish homes around the world.  They were treated to studio portraits and inspirational speakers and given a silver candlestick as a bat mitzvah gift.

“Family milestones can be much more stressful and difficult, both financially and emotionally, without a parent,” says Rabbi Amram Blau, Director of the Chesed Menachem Mendel program.  “It’s heartwarming to see the joy on the faces of these young women and their families in reaching this momentous occasion. ”

The day was concluded with a lavish banquet and reception for family and friends of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrants at the International Convention Center at the entrance to Jerusalem.

Rabbi Sholom Duchman, the International Director of Colel Chabad, , says that the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program is just one facet of a national effort that has already reached close to 2000 boys and girls who have lost parents.  “On days like today we want these children to feel the joy that any normal child experiences on their bar mitzvah and do our best to make that happen,” he said.

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