Israeli boy orphaned in Hamas invasion marks his bar mitzvah

ZAKA recovered two pairs of tefillin from the ravaged kibbutz, including one belonging to his 90-year-old Holocaust survivor grandfather.


An Israeli boy whose parents, two sisters, and grandfather were murdered in the Hamas attack on his kibbutz celebrated his bar mitzvah on Thursday.

Ariel Zohar of Kibbutz Nahal Oz was saved from the Oct. 7 massacre because he went out for a run. His father, Yaniv Zohar, 54, mother, Yasmin, 49, and sisters Keshet, 18, and Tehelet, 20, were buried after a joint funeral in Rishon LeTsiyon on Oct. 18. The funeral was interrupted by sirens, forcing mourners to take cover at the cemetery.

He is now staying at his uncle’s home in the Tel Aviv suburb.

Zohar was able to recover two pairs of tefillin or phylacteries — the small black leather boxes with leather straps containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah and worn during weekday morning prayers — from his destroyed home.

The first pair was the one that his parents had bought him for his bar mitzvah, while the second, retrieved by a ZAKA search and rescue official at Zohar’s request, had been handed down to Zohar’s father from his surviving grandfather Marco, a Holocaust survivor whose own parents were murdered by the Nazis.

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Chaim Otmazgin, who recovered the tefillin from the house, recounted the moving words that Zohar’s 90-year-old grandfather told his grandson: “My parents were murdered when I was 14. Today I have a grandson living in Israel! To you too, they did this to you when you were 12 years old. You too will have grandchildren in Israel!”

Tomer Cohen, the boy’s uncle, told the Tazpit Press Service on Tuesday, “Our message is the Nation of Israel lives.”

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Hamas currently holds 137 men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners captive in Gaza. Some people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.