Collel Chabad, one of the oldest charity organizations in Israel, put together a Bar Mitzvah celebration for 109 orphans whom it supports. The highlight of the celebration was when the boys were called up to the Torah at the Kotel (Western Wall).
“This is a process that Collel Chabad undertook a few years ago,” explained Collel Chabad’s director, Rabbi Sholom Duchman. “Some of the children who are orphans are embarrassed to come to shul to have a Bar Mitzvah. Their friends come together with their fathers and with the family there, and unfortunately [the orphans] don’t have a father.”
Collel Chabad reaches out to all the children, gives them full Bar Mitzvah lessons and even provides them with a tallit and tefillin to put on during the ceremony and afterwards.
“The emotions here are incredible,” said Rabbi Duchman. “It’s not a sad moment. It’s a very happy moment.”
Later in the day, the children also met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who found the time to speak to them and told them that “having a Bar Mitzvah is a very exciting event. I hope that this day will remain etched in your memory. We always say that there is no joy without sorrow in life, and I know that each of you in his own way experienced the grief of loss. Remember that Israel supports you and hugs you.”
Bar Mitzvah orphans meet PM Netanyahu, Photo: Moshe Milner / GPO / FLASH90