While a Jerusalem snowstorm began swirling outside, 250 grandmothers, mothers, siblings, aunts, and cousins came together to celebrate a momentous and emotional occasion.
Over 40 bat mitzvah-aged orphan girls celebrated their bat mitzvah at the annual Colel Chabad bat mitzvah celebration.
“While we had a beautiful online celebration last year due to COVID restrictions, we were so happy to be able to be back together, in person, to celebrate the bat mitzvah of these special girls,” said Rabbi Itzik Marton, Activities Coordinator for Colel Chabad and Chessed Menachem Mendel.
The event, scheduled to coincide with the yartzheit of the Rebbetzin of Lubavich, Chaya Mushka Schneerson, was supported by the Meromim Foundation and Renner family.
For many of the families who are part of Colel Chabad’s Chessed Menachem Mendel program which supports widows and orphans throughout the year, the celebrations put together by Colel Chabad are the only ones that mark these special occasions.
“We invest a lot in making these events special for the children, personalizing their experiences, while giving them the sense of togetherness with other families just like them,” Marton continued.
The young women enjoyed music, dancing, a photo shoot, and a catered meal as well as receiving a set of jewelry, crystal candlesticks and a leather-bound book of Tehillim (Psalms) to celebrate their entering into Jewish womanhood. Each bat mitzvah was given a personal bracha by Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman, Chief Rabbi of Migdal Ha'emek, and they traveled together to Kever Rachel (Rachel's Tomb) for a special prayer following the event.
“When you experience the loss of a parent at such a young age, you can often feel different from your peers who certainly can’t understand the challenges you are going through,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad.
“Being able to celebrate in such a beautiful way, with so many others just like you, is a big comfort to these exceptional young women and their families, and gives them a boost in confidence and resilience going forward.”
Colel Chabad, founded in 1788, is Israel’s longest continuously running social services organization, supporting those in need throughout the year, financially, socially, and emotionally through its various programs and activities.