Pres. Rivlin at the 13th annual Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony at the President’s Residence for boys and girls who were either injured themselves or who lost a parent or whose parents were permanently injured in a terrorist incident..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Terror Victims Association chairman Yehoshua Cohen called on the government, and in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who currently holds the Finance portfolio, to make more funds available to victims of terrorism and to give them recognition and benefits equal to those of disabled soldiers.
Cohen issued his plea on Monday night at the 13th annual bar/bat mitzva ceremony at the President’s Residence for boys and girls who were either injured themselves, lost a parent, or whose parents were permanently injured in a terrorist incident, and urged President Reuven Rivlin to use his influence with the prime minister to increase funding for their needs.
In addressing the youngsters, Cohen said that the government does not do nearly enough for them and their families and that it is left to voluntary organizations to make up for the lacuna. Were it not for them, much of what is done for the victims of terrorism would not be possible, he added.
Cohen himself was severely injured in Jerusalem’s German Colony during the War of Independence. His brother was also injured, and later his family had to cope with two other brothers who emerged with disabilities after fighting in Israel’s wars. However, he said, he had not allowed his disability to prevent him from living a normal life and contributing to society.
Orel Mamistalov spoke at the ceremony of what it was like to grow up without a father. She had been oneand- a-half months old when her father, Yosef, a bus driver, was killed in September 2002.
He had blocked the passage of a suicide bomber who tried to enter the bus in Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street outside the Great Synagogue. In doing so, he had prevented a far greater tragedy.
“To me, he is a hero,” said Orel, the youngest of four children who have been raised by their mother, Esther.
Rivlin mentioned another Orel who was present, Orel Yerislov, who at the age of eight was critically injured by a Grad rocket during Operation Cast Lead, and who despite all odds recovered.
He also mentioned Adiso Takala, whose family realized a long-cherished dream to come to Israel from Ethiopia.
The family’s joy was marred soon afterwards, when their mother was killed in a terrorist attack.
Life in Israel is always a mix of joy and sadness, said the president, commenting that only a week earlier the country celebrated Hanukka, which marks the miracle of the victory of the Maccabees, and in a few days will be marking the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tevet, which is a time of sadness and the commemoration of the siege of Jerusalem that led to the destruction of the First Temple.
Dwelling momentarily on the sadness that is part and parcel of Israeli life, Rivlin said that everyone in the room was mourning a loved one who will never return, and that even something as joyful as a bar/bat mitzva celebration was tinged with sadness.
For all that, the president said he was confident that the 50 youngsters who had come with volunteers and with parents would take on the responsibility of building a better world. In Jewish tradition, he said, maturity is equated with the responsibility for making the world a better place.
National Insurance Institute director Shlomo Mor Yosef said that in the weekly biblical readings “we are concluding the Book of Genesis in which we begin the connection between the Children of Israel and the Land of Israel.”
The people of Israel today are the army of Israel, he said.
“We are all on the front line, be it in a bus, a discotheque or a market – in fact in every place where we live.”
The State of Israel, he said, has charged the National Insurance Institute with responsibility for the needs of victims of terrorism – “those who were wounded on the civilian front lines.”
This is not something to be taken for granted, he said, as “regular” widows and orphans do not receive the same treatment as victims of terrorism.
“Special treatment is given to you because the government did not succeed in protecting you. We are with you from day one, just as we are with the Shapira family and Ayala,” he said, referring to Ayala Shapira, the 11-year-old girl who was critically injured when Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at a car driven by her father last Thursday.