A heartwarming Bar-Mitzvah with President Rivlin

Israel's President Rivlin hosts a joint Bar and Bat Mitzvah for IDF orphans.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rivlin with the Bar and Bat Mitzvah children
Rivlin with the Bar and Bat Mitzvah children
Mark Naiman

“Dad was killed in Operation Defensive Shield. He went out on patrol in Gaza and seven terrorists fought him and the soldiers he was with and my dad did not survive the bullet that hit him,” Shira Grinberg, daughter of Lt-Col Amotz Grinberg told the president and there was not a dry eye in the Jerusalem Room of Beit HaNasi.

Shira came with 29 other Bar and Bat Mitzvah children who lost parents serving in the IDF and security forces, to celebrate their coming of age at Beit HaNasi today, Thursday 7 November / 9 Cheshvan, together with the IDF Widows’ and Orphans’ Association.

The young people told the president about their parents and how they lost their lives, and about the difficulties of daily life. Shira, the daughter of Amotz Grinberg, added “Now, I am at a new school in a new class and it’s even harder. I don’t know how to tell the kids that my dad was killed. When they ask me where my dad is, I don’t know how to begin to tell them. I don’t want them to pity me.”

Among the young people who told the stories of their parents was Raz Efrati, son of Master Sergeant Ehud Efrati, who fell in battle in Gaza in 2007 while on reserve duty. Raz said, “I was four months old when my dad was killed. It was when Hamas were firing rockets and my dad was in the Paratroops. He was on the last day of his reserve duty.” Hila Ganon, daughter of Israel Prisons Service Inspector Maor Ganon, who lost his live in the Carmel fires disaster said, “I was three when my dad was killed. This year I wanted to tell my class who my dad was. I am very proud of him and happy that I got many of his characteristics. It is important to me that people know who he was and what he did.”

The president listened to the young people, who came from all over Israel, and their stories and said “I cannot hide my emotions. I am very moved. The age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a special age for the Jewish people, when boys and girls grow up and take on both many rights but also many responsibilities and duties. Sitting with you today is very moving because I know I am talking to young people who had to start growing up long before the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

You were forced to grow up, to help the family that experiences the great loss every moment of the day. As president and as a citizen I am full of admiration for you and your families on behalf of all Israelis. Your Bar Mitzvah is celebrated by the whole country, and as moving as it is for you, it is perhaps even more moving for us. Mazal Tov to you dear ones. I am so happy to host you here.”

Chairperson of the IDF Widows’ and Orphans’ Association Tami Shelach: “Our dear Bar and Bat Mitzvah children began growing up early, on the day the family experienced its great tragedy, and they lost a parent and guide. As someone who accompanied her children on this very same challenging journey many years ago, I know what difficulties you faced and continue to face every day, but I also know what tremendous strengths you have. We are here with you, in sad times but also in happy times like these, remembering, longing and carrying on with great pride, while keeping the special legacy your dear ones left us.”