120 Israeli orphans celebrate bar and bat mitzvahs together in Jerusalem

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 120 Israeli orphans celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in Jerusalem.

The 70 boys and 40 girls who have lost one or both parents were hosted at the celebration by the Chesed Menachem Mendel program of the Colel Chabad charitable organization. Many of the participating children come from economically disadvantaged families.

In a ceremony held Monday at the Western Wall, each bar mitzvah boy was gifted a set phylacteries, or tefillin, and a prayer shawl, or talit.  They also each received a new kippa and tie. Each of the boys was called up to the Torah for an aliyah in services at the Western Wall.

The bat mitzvah girls participated in a “hafrashat challah” ceremony where they learned about the  mitzvah of separating a portion of the dough as a symbolic offering to the priestly class. They were given a silver candlestick and treated to studio portraits as a bat mitzvah gift.


A reception including a festive banquet was held after the day’s events for the honorees, their families and friends.

“On days like today we want these children to feel the joy that any normal child experiences on their bar mitzvah and do our best to make that happen,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, international director of Colel Chabad, in a statement.

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