Koren Tasa's aliyah at the Kotel
Koren Tasa's aliyah at the KotelMeir Powlowski

A Bar Mitzvah is a momentous occasion in a Jewish young man's life, a meaningful rite of passage to adulthood. He is called to the Torah for the first time, candies are thrown at him, and his parents, grandparents, and siblings, if he is lucky enough to have them, burst with pride.

Koren Tasa, however, moved abruptly into adulthood on October 7th, Simchat Torah, although his official Bar Mitzvah took place only a few days ago at the Kotel. Koren is a hero at the age of 13.

Koren Tasa
Koren TasaMeir Pawlowski

The Tasa's, who lived in Netiv Ha’asara in the Gaza Envelope, lost the head of their family Gil Hy"d, aged 46, in the Hamas terrorist invasion of the community on that indescribably horrific day.

Koren's older brother, Or Hy"d, aged 17, was murdered by Hamas terrorists on Zikim Beach where he had gone fishing early that morning.

Terrorists invade Zikim Beach from the sea /IDF
Terrorists invade Zikim Beach from the sea /IDF

Koren, the Bar Mitzva boy, was wounded but survived because his father threw himself on top of him and his younger brother, who lost an eye in the gunfire.

The father and son were murdered in different places, but at the same hour, on that same terrible Black Shabbat.

A family of heroes.

Mother Sabine, like a lioness, deals with bereavement, loss, wounds, and evacuation from the house and community that had been her home.

Fast forward to Thursday, March 14

Procession to Kotel with Koren
Procession to Kotel with KorenMeir Pawlowski

Singing and dancing, OneFamily volunteers and staff, along with students from the Noam Givat Mordechai Yeshiva H.S. and a busload filled with his friends and family, accompanied Koren to the Kotel in a joyous procession on his Bar Mitzvah day, where he was called to the Torah at the Kotel Plaza, the remaining vestige of our Holy Temple.

Grandfather Avraham helps Koren with tefillin
Grandfather Avraham helps Koren with tefillinMeir Pawlowski

Grandfather Avraham helped him put on tefillin while Grandmother Suzanne, mother Sabine, and brothers Zohar and Shai looked on.

Sabine, Chantal, Oriella, Suzanne
Sabine, Chantal, Oriella, SuzanneMeir Pawlowski

Family, friends, and guests were visibly moved at the ceremony, and proud of Koren’s stalwart courage in the face of those who wish to destroy us in this generation as they have tried again and again.

Tasa family at the Kotel
Tasa family at the KotelMeir Pawlowski

Honoring Koren and the event by their presence were:

-Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Kotel and Holy Sites in Israel

-Solly Eliav, CEO of the Kotel Heritage Fund

-Member of Knesset Boaz Bismuth

-Chantal Belzberg, CEO OneFamily, sponsors

-Noam Yeshiva H.S. students and OneFamily’s dedicated staff and volunteers

MK Boaz Bismuth blesses Koren
MK Boaz Bismuth blesses KorenMeir Pawlowski

The festivities continued with a tour of the Kotel Tunnels and then at the Mishkenot Shaananim Restaurant overlooking the Old City, which was decorated with colored balloons for the occasion and where a mentalist's performance added to the young people’s enjoyment.

Fun at the restaurant
Fun at the restaurantMeir Pawlowski

And just a few days earlier:

22 girls who lost fathers or brothers in the Swords of Iron War were treated to a festive Bat Mitzvah evening at the Kedma Restaurant in the Mamilla Mall near Jerusalem's Old City.

Proving Jewish solidarity in the face of bereavement, the women of the Mashhadi Jewish congregation in Great Neck, Long Island decided that they wanted to bring happiness to a group of young Israelis who suffered losses in the war.

Mashhadi Great Neck women at Bat Mitzva
Mashhadi Great Neck women at Bat MitzvaMeir Pawlowski

They turned to the OneFamily organization for help and provided the festive meal, music, dance, and gifts –even a makeup session and a crafts project – for 22 twelve-year-old girls, who, for a few hours, could forget the tragedies they have so recently suffered.

The girls were accompanied by mothers and sisters who realized how important it is for their daughters and sisters to celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs joyously, joining the circle and blessing them together, despite shedding not a few tears quietly while the girls danced on and sang along with OneFamily volunteers and staff.

Dancing at Bat Mitzva
Dancing at Bat MitzvaMeir Pawlowski

Am Yisrael Chai.