Over 700 children who had lost a parent celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in a large-scale event funded by Israel’s National Insurance Institute last Monday.
The 4,000 person event took place at the “Superland” amusement park in Rishon Lezion – aptly renamed “Mitzvahland” during the event. Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest-running charitable organization, was chosen as the production partner for the event on behalf of the NII’s Rehabilitation Branch, which works directly with families who have experienced a tragic loss.
All families were provided day passes to the park, which was entirely reserved for the event. With free food, short lines for the rides, and snack stations set up around the park, the children’s special day concluded with a concert featuring Israeli pop-star Eden Hasson.
In keeping with the bar/bat mitzvah theme, a Mitzvah Fair was set up within the park. Children had the chance to absorb various aspects of Jewish values, learning how to craft their own mezuzah cases, candle holders, kiddush cups, and other essential Judaica. Every kid was also presented with their own bar/bat mitzvah gift – a brand new digital watch.
M, a mother of five whose husband died by suicide, was celebrating her son’s bar mitzvah at the festival. She said that after the past year and a half of national and personal challenges, the event was welcomed. “It’s so important that these children see that someone is thinking about them and realize that they deserve some basic happiness after all they’ve been through.”
NII director Meir Spiegler addressed the crowd before the final concert, saying: “Our goal is to be able to assist and be partners not just in supporting you, but as importantly, in being a part of your happy occasions. We are happy when you’re happy, so we should be blessed to be a part of many other happy moments in the future.”
Rabbi Mendy Blau, Director of Colel Chabad’s Israel branch, saluted the National Insurance Institute. “It is a tremendous source of pride to see the great length that our country goes to in order to bring happiness and support to these families. We are honored to be a part of this event and hope it continues to bring joy to the children on this special occasion.”
Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions require limiting the number of participants. Therefore, two additional “Mitzvahland” style fun days are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks: one for several hundred more children from the ultra-Orthodox community, and a dedicated day for adolescents from the Israeli-Arab population who have experienced similar loss.