The joint bar-bat mitzvah celebrtion
The joint bar-bat mitzvah celebrtion Avital Yanai

A bar-bat mitzvah event the likes of which had never been seen before in the communities of Ir Yamim or Poleg, took place at Emunah Bet Elazraki Children’s Home.

Dressed in their beautiful clothes, with the participation of hundreds of invited guests, the boys and girls of the children's home had reached adulthood at this year's bar and bat mitzvah celebration. But this year, it was truly something unique and special…

It all started about two years ago, with the initial connection which had been created between this unique children’s home, which is home to 200 children at-risk of all ages, and new immigrants to Israel from South Africa and England who came to live in the communities of Ir Yamim and Poleg in Netanya. The amazing group of women led by Michelle Rosen, Melanie Kilim and Shoshana Bika began a volunteer activity at the children's home, which was gaining momentum, yielding wonderful results.

Among other things, the women of Ir Yamim and Poleg volunteered to organize the annual bar-bat mitzvah event at the children's home. From the very outset of the planning for the event, some of the women said that they had never had the opportunity to celebrate a bat mitzvah themselves. At this point, Michelle, the group's leader, decided that it was never too late, because what is most important and what will be remembered is the meaningful celebration, and not the age.

After a series of amazing meetings at the children's home, the exciting day had arrived - a joint bar-bat mitzvah celebration for the children of the children's home and the women of the Ir Yamim and Poleg communities of all ages. On this special occasion, the celebrants were also joined by four boys and girls from the US celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah - part of a group of guests from the Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Florida led by Rabbi Dan Levin - old friends of the children's home.

During the emotional event, where everyone was dressed in white, the celebrants enjoyed a wonderful meal, as well as a program including singing and dancing to the sounds of the orchestra led by Nathaniel Kuperman, and singers, Naftali Gold and Ishay Lapidot. A particularly moving moment took place as the celebrants of all ages walked along the bar-bat mitzvah “route,” as a unique circle of women gathered on stage while the song "Vezakeini," (God grant me), was heard during the prayer over the candle lighting.

The event was moderated by Yehuda Kohn, the director of the children’s home for the past 33 years, and Asia Hadad – a staff member of the children’s home who grew up there herself. Special, exciting, unforgettable - these are small words for the big evening that created a rare and uplifting experience for all.