WWII veteran, 91, celebrates bar mitzva in Jerusalem

Kotel ceremony arranged by retired Israeli ambassador who met Hans De Leeuw at war veterans event where he expressed interest in the ritual.

November 7, 2010 18:29
bar mitzvah

Man 89 bar mitzvah at kotel. (photo credit: AP)

JERUSALEM  — A 91-year-old Dutch Jew who fought the Nazis in World War II has marked his bar mitzvah, the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony — decades after the traditional date.

Hans De Leeuw, who flew in from British Columbia, Canada, says he was "shaking" during the service — usually meant for 13-year-olds — at Jerusalem's Western Wall on Sunday.

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De Leeuw put on phylacteries, ritual objects strapped to the arm and forehead, and donned a prayer shawl.

He called the ceremony "a tremendous event," saying he didn't do it earlier because of his secular upbringing and the war.

He said "there was always something missing in my life until now."

Earlier this year, De Leeuw met a retired Israeli ambassador at a gathering for war veterans and expressed his wish to have a bar mitzvah. The diplomat arranged it.

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