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Biggest Orthodox Bar Mitzvah Event in History

Colel Chabad initiative brings together 113 orphans from around the country to celebrate their rite of passage together.

JERUSALEM, April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- One hundred and thirteen orphans from all over Israel celebrated their bar mitzva ceremonies together with their relatives on Monday, at a giant event in Jerusalem. Colel Chabad, the humanitarian arm of Chabad, hosted the event, which began with a ceremony at the Western Wall and continued at the International Convention Center. This initiative aims to give orphaned children a memorable, joyous Bar Mitzvah at a time when an orphaned child can feel his loss most, hopefully aiding the rehabilitation following the tragedy.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140409/MN01364)

A bar mitzvah is a celebration that every Jewish boy looks forward to. The event usually takes place on the thirteenth birthday and marks the entrance into adulthood and its responsibilities. As Rabbi Sholom Duchman, the director of Colel Chabad explains, the main figure of a bar mitzva is usually the father, thus these boys would have been embarrassed to have had had their bar mitzva at the synagogue without one. However, this collective experience brought them together with other children who understand them and with whom they were able to feel comfortable celebrating this milestone.

As a special bar mitzvah gift, each boy received his own set of tefillin (phylacteries; something that the boys are obligated to wear daily once they have passéd their thirteenth birthday), a kippa and a white shirt, and was called up to recite the blessing on the Torah, with some reading the Torah on their own. Festivities later continued at the International Convention Center where the boys had studio pictures taken with their families and enjoyed a feast of meats and fish. 

This is the seventh year that a Bar Mitzva Mega Event for orphans was held - an initiative that evolved from a project originally geared toward Olim (new immigrants) from the FSU. MK Yair Shamir (Likud - Yisrael Beiteinu) was among an array of distinguished officials present at the event. He noted that his father, late prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, had attended the first event held for 1000 Russian olim and he was continuing the tradition. 

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan all attended the celebration alongside a host of other MKs.

Bar Mitzva boy Yehuda Habernas of Kfar Adumim told The Jerusalem Post that his father died of Cancer six years ago, and he appreciates being with other children who understand his position and don't treat him differently. "They know you're a normal person - it's not that you're special or something," he said.

Media Contact: Eli Mandelbaum, Eli Mandelbaum Production, 972544926888, [email protected]

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SOURCE Eli Mandelbaum Production

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