Undeterred by Iranian attack, 122 Israeli orphans celebrate Bar Mitzvah together at Western Wall

Amid wars with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, mass Bar Mitzvah celebration held for 122 orphans in the Old City of Jerusalem.

By World Israel News Staff

In an event that was nearly cancelled due to the widespread national shutdown following Iran’s attack on Israel, 122 orphans were able to celebrate their bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall this week, as part of an annual initiative organized by Colel Chabad.

This year’s celebration took place with the recognition that many more Israeli wives and children had become widows and orphans in recent months but that maintaining an optimal level of normalcy for those families was an integral part of the Israeli and Jewish spirit.

“This year’s bar mitzvah celebration is certainly different than any other year but it reminds us that we need to be here for families in need more than ever,” said Rabbi Zalman Duchman, Director of Development for Colel Chabad.

“The painfully large number of orphaned children all across Israel need to know that life will go on for them and they deserve to have happy days like these.  We are here to give these kids strength but in truth it is often them and their mothers who give us strength by inspiring us through their grit and tenacity to carry on in the face of some of the most difficult tragedies.”

The event began with the traditional bar mitzvah ceremony, during which each young man was danced down to the Western Wall, accompanied by family and volunteers, to make the traditional blessing on the Torah. Each participant received his own set of tefillin (phylacteries) as well as new clothing for the special occasion.

Following the celebration at the Western Wall Plaza, the boys’ families were the guests of honor at a gala celebration in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center hall, where they were treated to a three course meal, concert, photo session and gifts to mark the occasion.

Among the celebrants was Refael, who lost his father at age seven to cancer and came along with his mother Gila all the way from Haifa.

Gila, who herself has faced numerous health challenges since her husband’s passing and suffered the death of a nephew on October 7th, said that the day reminded her family that they were allowed to be happy.

“I don’t have a husband and my two older children live abroad so I was forced to recognize that I wouldn’t be able to give Refael the type of celebration and experience he deserves for becoming a bar mitzvah.  I am so deeply grateful to everyone at Colel Chabad who thought to make this happen and we can promise that this is a memory that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

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