Israel’s president holds bar/bat mitzvah celebration for terror victims

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin held a bar and bat mitzvah celebration for children who were victims of terrorist attacks.

Some 50 children attended the celebration on Monday, including three orphans. Also participating in the program were children who lost siblings in terror attacks.

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The children began the day with a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and ended it with a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, where Rivlin congratulated them “on reaching the age of mitzvot.”

“Even at the most happy of occasions we do not forget our loved ones, the father, mother, brother or sister, who aren’t able to celebrate with us here today,” Rivlin said. “There is a price to our being Jewish, to our independence, sometimes, the price is too high and almost always, the price we pay is unbearable. An unbearable price that each one of you knows first-hand, but there is also a lot of power and strength which should be remembered.”

Rivlin concluded: “Dear boys and girls, we love you and are proud of you. You have paid a heavy price, but you deserve unlimited joy. The people of Israel and the State of Israel will accompany you along your way and throughout your adult life.”

Orel Mamistalov, 12, whose father, a bus driver, was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a  bus in Tel Aviv in 2002 less than two months after she was born, told Rivlin: “A childhood without a father is a difficult childhood. The fact that my father is not with me physically is very difficult, but he is always in my heart. My father’s absence is felt particularly at important stages in my life.”