Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama held a festive party for 28 IDF and secuirty force orphans at the President's Residence to mark their arrival at Bar and Bat mitzvah age.
The ceremony was attended by the President, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, and Chairperson of the Widows and Orphans Organization Tami Shelah.
Among the boys and girls were Shalev, son of Moti Butbul Hy"d, killed in the Kfar Giladi disaster during the Second Lebanon War; Silan, son of Adel Tapesh, and Yuval, daughter of Rami Yisraeli, both killed in the Carmel fire disaster; Yuval daughter of Ron (Yehoshua) Kochava, Jihad Nizal, son of Wassim Nizal, and Aleh, daughter of Elad Ram, killed in the Second Lebanon War; and Maya, daughter of Dolev Kedar, who fell in Operation Protective Edge.
"Nehama and I are very excited today to welcome you," the President began, adding: "At this age you become Bar Mitzvah, committed to mitzvas, with rights and obligations.Your maturiing began early, from the day the family was visited by great disaster, the day we lost one of your parents. We know what a hard road you traveled to overcome all the difficulties you faced when you were left without someone so beloved, someone who was to serve as mentor, teacher, educator, and guide."
The President added that "these are the gaps that the organization attempts to fill - the lack - as much as possible, and we are full of appreciation for its endeavors .Here we have the opportunity to participate in this joy mixed with sorrow and pain that was your lot at various times. You, who at a young age could hardly understand the magnitude of the tragedy that befell you, one which you learned to understand over the years."
"We are glad to be able to be with you at this important moment, not in place of your beloved parent, but together with him. They are always in your heart, in our hearts, because they are our children, because of them all of us can continue to live our normal lives here," Rivlin concluded.
The youngsters talked about the significance of the transition to Bar and Bat Mitzvah for them.Inbar Cohen of Pardes Hannah said: "The significance of accepting the commandments for me is accepting responsibility, and I can already decide for myself."Yuval Yisraeli added, "There is more responsibility now, and we are more mature, the responsibility at home grows, and with it the rights."The girls and boys also talked about the various Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations they were planning with their families and also talked about the festivities that the Widows and Orphans Organization would hold for them.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said: "From the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah you are expected to be more responsible.I knew some of your fathers and what characterized them beyond their great love for the family - for you, is the great responsibility for the security of the State, what we continue in their names.The responsibility that you and I accept from day to day is very characteristic of your fathers and we remember them on this day."
"I want to wish you success and to continue to realize your potential, face your challenges and achieve your aspirations; do the best you can to influence your destiny and contribute to your surroundings That's also something that characterizes maturity - the desire to have a wider influence, on one's family and the society we all share, and try to make it better," added the Chief of Staff.
Prior to the event held at the President's Residence, the youngsters took part in a joint prayer at the Western Wall.