chabad bar mitzvah 88 29.
(photo credit: Sharon Matityahu)
In Israel everything is politics and in Judaism everything is symbolism. There was a good mix of both at Beit Hanassi on Monday night, when 55 bar mitzva boys and 45 bat mitzva girls, all of them in one way or another victims of terror, came together to celebrate not only their reaching the age of responsibility, but also their survival.
Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau recalled how he had visited their homes soon after tragedy had struck, and how he had witnessed the effects of those cruel catastrophes on families.
"To be able to congratulate you on reaching your bar and bat mitzva is a source of comfort," he said.
Lau underscored the significance of the celebration in the week leading up to the reading of the Biblical portion 'Lech Lecha' in which the Lord appeared to Abraham and promised to assign the land to his heirs. "Our enemies still don't accept that Biblical promise or our right to live here," said Lau. "Who knows this better than you!"
Reference to 'Lech Lecha' was also made by Menashe Pur David, a member of the Committee of the Victims of Terror and by twelve and a half year old Hai Alush, who spoke on behalf of the 100 youngsters. Pur David - who, like many other people present, was wearing an orange bracelet that signified that he was either an evacuee from Gush Katif or that he identified with the evacuees - called for a moment a silence for those victims of terror who did not survive and for those who are still battling for their lives.
To the 100 12 and 13 year olds he said: "You have all paid a high price in your young lives. I hope that the fact that you are here is a sign to all those who would seek to destroy us that they cannot break our spirit or our resolve. You are the proof that the People of Israel lives!"
Pur David also addressed himself to the Palestinian people, saying "I ask our cousins, who are now our enemies, to accept the hand that we now hold out in peace and friendship." But he warned that if the Palestinians in any way harm a Jewish man, woman or child, the retaliation will be in kind.
"I know that there are no words of comfort for your sorrow," said President Shimon Peres. "War was once an army against another army. "Now it's fanatically insane people against innocents." Whoever falls as the result of an act of terror is both a victim and a soldier, said Peres, because what happens to him determines the attitude of the nation.
Peres said that he had invited the bar and bat mitzva boys and girls so as to demonstrate an affinity with them and to express the hope that they would grow and raise families.
Peres noted that Israel had won all of the seven wars in which it had been embroiled and had also emerged victorious from two intifadas. "We will triumph over terror too," he pledged.