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The 13-year-old slowly removed the phylacteries and prayer shawl his father had just recently bought him for his bar mitzva.
Minutes earlier, at the culmination of the religious service at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue Thursday, the young man had recited the mourner's prayer for his father, who was killed last month by a Palestinian rocket in Sderot.
Half in a daze, wearing his father's army ID tag around his neck, Solomon Yaakobov descended from the synagogue stage.
"It is sad but there is nothing to do, I have got to do this," he murmurs.
His mother, Purim, is too fraught with emotions and grief to even speak.
It was only one month ago that Yaakov Yaakobov, 43, was mortally wounded in the November 21 Palestinian attack on the Sderot factory he worked in.
At the time, the family of four were at the height of preparations for the teen's bar mitzva, only to have their joy melted to grief.
A generous contribution by the One Family Fund, an organization that works to help Israeli victims of terror, enabled Yaakobov to celebrate his bar mitzva in Jerusalem with friends and family free of charge, said Pini Rabinovich, the group's southern region coordinator.
The event, which was sponsored by Rabbi Levy and Marci Meier of Los Angeles and attended by about 100 people, included a service at the Great Synagogue, a visit to the Western Wall and a luncheon at a Jerusalem banquet hall where members of a Jerusalem soccer team Solomon loved were in attendance.
The visit to Jerusalem, which took place the day after a rare snowfall in the capital, provided the teen a respite from the near-daily rocket attacks in his hometown and came just 48 hours after two teens were badly wounded in such an attack.
Still, the anomaly of the young man saying the mourner's prayer at his own bar mitzva exemplified the deep sorrow that overshadowed the event.
"It is very hard without dad. We will never be the same again," he said. "But he will always be with me, in my heart."
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