chabad bar mitzvah 88 29.
(photo credit: Sharon Matityahu)
Nearly every month, a dozen underprivileged children celebrate their bar
mitzvahs, free of charge. For these children, what may have been only a dream
becomes a reality thanks to Hazon Yeshaya, a humanitarian network in
The celebrants, who come from needy and/or broken families,
would have been hard-pressed to properly celebrate this important moment were it
not for this network.
Despite the severe economic decline of the last few
years, the organization’s bar/bat mitzvah celebrations continue to provide a
joyful experience for these kids, and a memorable and inspiring introduction to
Under the network’s wing, these youngsters get a tour of
Jerusalem and visit the Western Wall. They are given a tallit, tefillin and a
siddur (prayer book).
In addition to the traditional ceremony, a small
party is organized for the young celebrants, together with their family and
friends. The festivities include not just food, but a magician and live
Last week, Hazon Yeshaya held a special celebration for the
bar/bat mitzvah children and their guests.
One of the bar mitzvah boys
was wheelchairbound, paralyzed by polio from an early age.
To honor him,
a number of the IDF’s finest – a group of paratroopers whom these children look
up to as heroes – were on hand to perform.
The children spent the day on
the soldiers’ shoulders, clearly enjoying their moment in the
All the bar/bat mitzvahs are funded by international donors.
In fact, some of the children now celebrate a “twin event,” where both the
bar/bat mitzva child and benefactor’s own child celebrate the occasion
The founder of Hazon Yeshaya, Abraham Israel, was born in
Egypt. His family came to Israel in hope of finding a better life, but was
turned back and told to wait until proper documentation could be organized. The
family waited three-and-a-half years, during which they ate at soup
When finally granted admittance, Israel was already of bar
mitzvah age, but the family could not afford to celebrate.
“party” consisted of a single cookie and a sincere “Mazal Tov!” from his
With that experience etched in his memory, Israel swore he would
make a difference in the Jewish state’s future.
And indeed he did: Hazon
Yeshaya not only runs the bar/bat mitzva project, but also provides hundreds of
hot meals each day.
In describing the impact of the network on young
lives, Israel tells a moving story of two orphaned brothers who lived together.
When the younger one was of bar mitzvah age, he asked his brother to organize a
party to celebrate the milestone.
The older brother promptly went to a
store and brought out two beers.
“L’haim!” he exclaimed. But his younger
sibling was very disappointed.
Two weeks later, the bar mitzvah boy found
himself at the Western Wall – thanks to Hazon Yeshaya. The boy was ecstatic at
this unexpected opportunity to have a real bar mitzvah.
“Thank you so, so
much for doing all this for me,” he said to Israel, who was no less moved than
the young celebrant.