The special celebration
The special celebrationCHAVA ROSNER

For Israeli victims of loss to terror or other tragedy, one of the most challenging aspects of coping with their personal pain comes as they approach what are meant to be joyous lifecycle events - but for them are just another reminder of the loss their family has experienced.

To address this challenging mix of emotions, the Colel Chabad charitable organization held a joint Bat Mitzva celebration in Jerusalem on Monday for 37 girls and their families and friends. Each of the girls had experienced such direct loss and many families said they appreciated being able to celebrate alongside others who understand those unique challenges.

Among the girls was the daughter of Rabbi Raziel Shevach. Driving near his home in January of 2018, Shevach, a beloved teacher, MDA medic and father of six was murdered in a terrorist shooting near Chavat Gilad.

His wife Yael was left to care for their family and described the Colel Chabad event as a form of ‘medicine.’ “The reality is that victims of terror are sadly in their own category and we are forced to approach these events differently. But days like today allow our daughters to feel while there is sadness and loss we are also able to experience joy and happiness,” Yael said. “Only afterwards will we again process the loss that brought us here, but for a few hours our children and these girls can feel that they are normal and happy bat mitzvah girls.”

The Bat Mitzva sponsored by Colel Chabad and Keren Meromim included a fully-catered banquet with entertainment and activities for the girls and the over 250 people in attendance. The girls participated in a challah-baking experience, dancing and each of the girls and their mothers were presented with a gift before leaving the hall.

“The purpose of these events is to allow each and every girl who has experienced such a personal tragedy to know that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad. “To have your bat mitzva after experiencing such a loss is very difficult but we make every effort to infuse the day with happiness and allow these girls and their families to celebrate alongside others who most appreciate what it means to be joyous and heartbroken at the very same time.”

Colel Chabad, founded in 1788, is Israel’s longest continuously running social services organization, supporting those in need throughout the year, financially, socially, and emotionally through its various programs and activities.