The Bar Mitzvah Wall in US Independence Park.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The excitement on the faces of the Saywitz family from California was obvious to all when they arrived at American Independence Park west of Jerusalem. After all, your child doesn’t celebrate his Bar Mitzvah every day, and doing so in Israel is extra special.
“We’ve already been planning this visit for a year, and I’m very happy for the privilege to be here,” said 13 year-old Ryan Benjamin Saywitz from Newport Beach. “This is my first visit to Israel, and it’s been a pleasant surprise for me,” the young boy added.
The family came for a two-week visit to Israel, during which they toured the entire county from the Golan in the north to Eilat in the south, including celebrating Ryan’s Bar mitzvah at an unforgettable ceremony at the Western Wall. “I feel as if bringing my family to Israel is the greatest accomplishment of my life,” said Michael Saywitz, as tears of emotion clouded his eyes.
Michael serves as the Chairman of the Board of JNF Palm Springs and Desert Region, but he came to Israel in a no less important role as Ryan’s grandfather. “I have visited Israel six times in the past, and each time I had a unique experience. Now I hope to transfer this deep connection to my grandson,” he said.
American Independence Park was established to mark the friendship between the people of Israel and the USA and also as an appreciation site for the friends and supporters of JNF USA. At the site, there are more than 5,000 plaques of appreciation for people, organizations and communities in the USA which support the implementation of many projects throughout Israel.
The Bar Mitzvah Wall at the American Independence Park was established with the aim of commemorating the memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust and were denied the privilege of celebrating their bar or bat mitzvahs. Next to the name of each American child is the name of a Jewish child who was murdered by the Nazis. Ryan unveiled the plaque with his name, and next to it was the name of Laszlo Abend, a Jewish boy from Austria. When they visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the family researched the past of this boy, who never got to celebrate his bar mitzvah during his short life, and whose name is now commemorated in Israel.
Read more and see photos of the Saywitz event at the Bar Mitzvah Wall