Dreams Do Come True

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Sometimes the unthinkable happens. For Har-El* , one of eight children of Ethiopian-born immigrants, it all happened less than one week before his Bar Mitzvah. Har-El’s uncle, a security guard turned his weapon on himself to commit suicide.

His family was paralyzed by the tragedy. They sent Har-El to school during the funeral, where Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz spent hours trying to comfort the heartbroken boy on the loss of his favorite uncle. As for Har-El’s long-awaited Bar Mitzvah, this was the last thing his broken parents could deal with.

Yet Har-El’s Boys Town Jerusalem family set out immediately to enable their student to enjoy the Bar Mitzvah of his dreams. Six weeks after the tragedy, Har-El celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the BTJ synagogue. Thanks to the efforts by Har-El’s teachers, principal, and BTJ Dean of Students Rabbi Meir Linchner, Har-El was able to have his celebration with his class and close family members.

The icing on the cake literally followed as Har-El was the guest of honor at a festive celebration funded by donors from New York. Here his classmates and guests were treated to a special breakfast cooked with love by Boys Town Jerusalem’s chef Avi Chamal. Afterwards, the seventh-graders left school to go bowling for the remainder of the exciting morning.

“You are proof that with great efforts, every student can succeed”

In Har-El’s case, the gifts that Boys Town Jerusalem has given him go far beyond the Bar Mitzvah event. Just several weeks before school opened in September, the Ministry of Education had contacted the school to plead with them to accept Har-El as a student. “Not one school in the city would take him,” recalled BTJ director of Jewish Studies Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov. “His behavior and study habits were quite problematic, due in part to difficulties at home where both parents are unemployed. We took up the challenge and accepted Har-El. Our staff mobilized to give this youngster the maximum to build his confidence and his ability to study and grow. The results have been phenomenal. Har-El’s behavior has improved dramatically, and his academic achievements are excellent. He simply needed the attention and the knowledge that we care.”

With his hand on the Bar Mitzvah boy’s thin shoulder, Rabbi Elimelech declared, “Har-El, you have made such a tremendous leap at Boys Town Jerusalem that you can look forward to becoming a pilot in the IDF! You are proof that with great efforts, every student can succeed. On one condition: that you serve the Almighty and respect your family and your fellow man. May you continue to be blessed to do so throughout your entire life!”

*Not his real name

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