Child victims of terrorism celebrate bnei mitzva with the Rivlins

On Monday evening they continued a 15-year tradition of Israel’s presidents by hosting victims of terrorism who were celebrating their bar and bat mitzva.

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December 6, 2016 01:50
3 minute read.
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and his wife, Nechama, (center) host victims of terrorism who were celebrati

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and his wife, Nechama, (center) host victims of terrorism who were celebrating their bnei mitzva last night.. (photo credit: GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife have a special soft spot for children, especially those who have been dealt a cruel blow by nature or by fate. Over the past two and a half years, they have hosted children with special needs, children who suffer racial discrimination, children at risk and children who in one way or another are victims of terrorism.

On Monday evening they continued a 15-year tradition of Israel’s presidents by hosting victims of terrorism who were celebrating their bar and bat mitzva.

All the youngsters wore white sweatshirts with a print of a large, blue Star of David, accompanied by the Hebrew logo of the Terror Victims organization.

The girls also wore floral garlands in their hair.

Rivlin, Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz and Yehoshua Cohen, the founding chairman of the Terrorism Victims Association, all noted that many of the children had matured beyond their years because of the suffering they endured. This was through the loss of a parent, a sibling or another close relative, and in some cases because of the physical injuries which continue to cause them pain and discomfort.

For these children, the transition from childhood to adulthood in accordance with Jewish tradition was a much more difficult journey “across the bridge,” as Rivlin put it, than it was for children who had not been bereaved or physically harmed.

Cohen was himself a victim of terrorism in Jerusalem’s German Colony during the War of Independence. He was only six years old at the time, but the memory of what happened to him has lingered to this day and was central to his decision to establish an organization that would to enable other children receive the help and comfort they needed.

Cohen was extremely appreciative of Katz’s hands-on involvement with the organization and his generosity on the issue of a budget. Cohen asked him to keep supporting the organization even after moving to another ministerial position.

Cohen also praised National Insurance Institute director Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef for always having a willing and sympathetic ear when it came to child victims of terrorism.

Thanking Rivlin on behalf of all the children was a sweet young girl by the name of Noa Meir. If the name rings a bell, Noa is one of the daughters of Dafna Meir, who in January this year was stabbed to death by a teenage Palestinian terrorist in the presence of her eldest daughter at their home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel.

Meir, 38, was survived by her husband, their four biological children and their two adopted children.

Noa, who had been particularly close to her mother, was planning her bat mitzva for more than a year before it was due to take place. “I dreamed of how it would be,” she said. “I could imagine the dress I would wear, how the guests would look and the presents I would receive. That was our secret – mine and my mother’s.”

She recalled that on occasion when her father thought they had chatted enough and that it was time to go to bed, they continued talking about the bat mitzva. “My mother is always with me, watching over me and praying for me in front of the divine creator,” said Noa.

“I felt her presence during my bat mitzva celebration. She stood beside me, but she was invisible and no one could see her because she was hidden. But the tremendous spirit of my mother beats inside me and will help me to grow, to rise and to spread my wings, and I will be her living monument – a proud daughter of her mother Daphna.”

Other children who had lost a parent to terrorism, and parents who had lost a spouse, could all identify with every word that Noa spoke, and the applause when she concluded was much louder and more sustained than for any other speaker.

Nechama Rivlin, the president’s wife, did not applaud. She simply opened her arms and gave Noa a big grandmotherly hug as she descended from the stage.


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