The feast
The feast Yad L'Achim

Twenty Jewish boys and girls who were rescued with their mothers from Arab villages arrived at the Western Wall plaza this week to participate in a special Bar/Bat Mitzvah Journey organized for them by the Yad L'Achim organization.

The youngsters, who were all raised as Muslims, had been assigned Yad L'Achim mentors to help them in their return to the Jewish people. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Journey is a 12-month project specially designed to prepare them for this momentous time in their lives.

It includes specially designed learning materials created for youngsters with their unique backgrounds and relates to their transition from Islam to Judaism. It culminates with a visit to the Western Wall (the Kotel).

Before the youngsters approached the Kotel they convened at The Chain of Generations Center located nearby, where they received a detailed explanation of Jewish continuity and how they are an inseparable part of it.

"Though we had learned about the subject, the experiential display at the center gave us a feeling of belonging," said one girl. "It convinced us that we have to do everything to be part of this noble chain."

Afterwards, a group of the girls prepared candlesticks for Holocaust survivors. The boys, meanwhile, participated in an experiential workshop that described the process of writing tefillin and watched a special film on the topic.

The groups then proceeded to the remnant of the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, to pray. Two of the boys, who had celebrated their Bar Mitzvah a few weeks earlier, were called to the Torah. The others, boys and girls, in separate groupings, offered prayers of thanks to G-d for delivering them from captivity and asked for help in the future.

The event concluded with a festive seudat mitzvah feast held in a nearby hall, during which several Rabbis delivered words of inspiration and encouragement.

Yad L'Achim stressed that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Journey will become an integral part of the activities of the organization's counter-assimilation department.

One official said that "for a number of the boys, and one of the girls, this was the first time they'd been to the Kotel. The fact that they were born and raised as Muslim children prevented them from ever reaching the Kotel. There is no doubt that this project will help connect to their source Jewish children who were rescued from Arab villages."