Ayala Shapira celebrated her bat mitzvah on Thursday, signifying her taking her place in the Jewish people as a responsible adult at the age of 12, but her ceremony was unique - just half-a-year-ago, Ayala was fighting for her life after suffering an Arab firebomb attack that left her critically burned.
Arutz Sheva was at the ceremony and spoke with her grandfather, Israel Shapira, who spoke about the night of the attack last December 25. That night Arab terrorists hurled a Molotov cocktail setting the family car on fire, as Ayala and her father Avner were driving on a service road between Ma'ale Shomron and their home of El-Matan in Samaria.
"I admire her courage from the first moment," said the proud grandfather. "When they were hit she had the presence of mind to roll on the ground to put the fire out, and she was courageous enough to walk like 400, 500 yards to get help."
He noted that burns inflicted by burning gasoline are the most severe, and that she is currently still undergoing a very long process of recovery. The attack left her suffering from severe burns to 40% of her face and upper body.
Ahead of the bat mitzvah ceremony, Ayala on Sunday ascended the Temple Mount - the holiest site in Judaism - to give thanks to G-d for her miraculous recovery.
Ayala's parents Avner and Ruth spoke with reporters ahead of the ceremony on Thursday, with Ruth acknowledging, "I have to say that half a year ago we weren't sure we'd reach this day."
The joyful parents reported that their daughter's situation improves from to day, and Avner explained, "there's no drama now, there are no milestones like 'the next surgery.' Now it's from day to day, one millimeter after the next."
During the week Ayala undergoes rehabilitation at the hospital and only comes home for Shabbat, they said, but the week before the bat mitzvah she got a "vacation" and was able to stay home the entire week.
"She's simply a heroic girl, she decided she wouldn't close up but would rather go out and be in the world, and so she is out in the world," said Ruth.
Avner noted on the support felt from the Jewish people throughout their daughter's struggle, saying, "we were very aware that the entire people of Israel, both in Israel and abroad, prayed for Ayala...and took a real interest in her, sent her gifts."
"So it's a kind of celebration for everyone," Ruth concluded.
Later, Ayala gave a short, moving speech with her mother standing at her side. The guests, numbering in the hundreds, watched a film produced especially for the occasion by the Temple Institute in which Ayala and her family are seen preparing a thanksgiving offering and entering a graphic of the Holy Temple, at which point she faces viewers and recites Psalm 100, giving thanks to G-d.
Clarinetist Musa Berlin and hassidic singer Yisrael Parnes then began to play lively Hebrew tunes and Ayala joined her classmates and guests in joyous dance, just like any other young girl at her bat mitzva.
There is still a long road ahead to full recovery, however. The public is asked to continue praying for the full recovery of Ayelet bat Rut.