When they were young children, Akililo Engadau, Seahon Kanada, Yallow Kanada, Adiso Damloo, Cintio Aiello and dozens of their Ethiopian friends dreamed of immigrating to Israel together with their families.
Together they went up to the mountains on the Sigd holiday, an Ethiopian Jewish festival, and prayed that they would reach the day when they could live in the Jewish homeland. But when they finally arrived in Israel, they did not dream they would be able to celebrate their Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall.
Most of them do not speak Hebrew and this is the first time they have ever been to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The language barrier did not prevent the Bar Mitzvah boys and all those attending the bar mitzvah ceremony held yesterday at the Western Wall from being all excited and crying for joy.
They kissed the stones of the Western Wall, prayed, and sang songs in Hebrew and Aramaic while wrapped in Israeli flags as a circle of drummers sang and danced with them.
The event was attended by members of the OU Israel organization, which operates the Hatzor Belev program in Hatzor, and accompanies the youngsters throughout the year.
The eighteen students, who immigrated from Ethiopia a year ago, received the tefillin donated by the Lev L'Ahad organization. During the event, they were joined by live broadcast from the United States via a video call to the students of the Ben Porat Yosef School, who answered 'Amen' to the boys' blessings in Israel and joined in the great singing. The connection was made possible thanks to the close cooperation between OU Israel, the Jewish Agency and AMIT.
Vice President of Projects at OU Israel, Chaim Pelzner told the Bar Mitzvah boys: "My parents were not born in Israel, but I was fortunate enough to be born in the Land of Israel. Your parents were not born in Israel and neither were you, but you got to come here. "
"It is right and just that the people of Israel return to the Land of Israel. We have been in the State of Israel for 70 years, but for 2,000 years we have been waiting for this moment, and it is a great privilege to live in Israel. We must be better in every field and know how to preserve and develop the gift we received," Pelzner said.
"We are happy that Ethiopian immigrants receive the proper place they deserve here at the Western Wall and celebrate their Bar Mitzvah with tefillin, dancing and singing," said Boaz Yosefi, principal of the AMIT school in Hatzor Haglilit.