BAR MITZVAH UNDER FIRE

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Thirteen-year-old Benjamin* always dreamed of a Bar Mitzvah with his family and friends at his side. Yet the Hamas missile attack on Israel and the COVID crisis shattered his dream to pieces. Only thanks to the love and care of Boys Town Jerusalem did Benjamin celebrate an unforgettable Bar Mitzvah ceremony that gave courage to all.

“Like so many, Benjamin’s family lost their economic footing during the pandemic,” BTJ Junior High Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz explained. “His father was out of work for over a year, and his mother’s salary barely covered food.

As the Bar Mitzvah approached, there was no money for an event for family and friends. To Benjamin’s delight, we invited the family to make a weekday Bar Mitzvah in the synagogue on campus, followed by a festive breakfast and bowling for his class given by generous donors. Yet we couldn’t imagine what lay ahead.”

Just days before the event, Benjamin’s father finally began a new job. He simply could not take a day off right away for the Bar Mitzvah. But Benjamin’s two brothers, both BTJ grads, would be alongside him at the ceremony, his father assured the boy.

Unfortunately, Hamas had other plans: the missile attack on Jerusalem and fierce missile barrages across the country plunged Israel into an emergency military conflict. Benjamin’s brothers, IDF officers (including one who heads an Iron Dome team), were called to action.

Accompanied by only his mother, Benjamin now arrived at BTJ for his long-awaited Bar Mitzvah. With the palpable support of his classmates and teachers – and with Rabbi Rosencrantz at his side – Benjamin chanted the Torah portion in a strong, confident voice. His smile soon lit the entire room.

“Benjamin’s classmates encouraged him every step of the way,” Rabbi Rosencrantz said. “When the situation is safer, we will continue the celebration with a festive meal and bowling for all. More than ever, we will celebrate the blessings of peace.”

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