Resilience in sorrow: Ariel celebrates bar mitzvah after losing family on Oct. 7

After losing his parents and younger sisters, Ariel Zohar celebrates his bar mitzvah with the tefillin of his father which was recovered from the ruins of his home

Yaniv and Yasmin Zohar were murdered on October 7 in Nahal Oz along with their two daughters, Keshet and Techelet. Their son, Ariel Zohar, who lost his entire family on that dreadful Saturday, celebrated his bar mitzvah last Thursday. The tefillin he wore was handed down to him from his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor after it was recovered from his wrecked home.
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One of the guests at the bar mitzvah was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi, who himself survived the Holocaust as a child. As a member of a family that perished in the Holocaust, he sought to strengthen Ariel after the profound loss.
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אריאל זוהר לצד הרב ישראל מאיר לאו בבר המצווה
אריאל זוהר לצד הרב ישראל מאיר לאו בבר המצווה
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau with Ariel Zohar
(Photo: Social media)
"They invited me to the boy's bar mitzvah while he was with his uncle. I came to bless him, but I was more moved than usual," the Rabbi shared in an interview with Ynet. "He ascended the Torah wrapped in a tallit and wearing tefillin, and later I learned that this tefillin belonged to his grandfather, which was found in the burnt house. Ariel insisted that the ruins of the house could be cleared only after they found the tefillin inherited from his grandfather. They found them intact, even though the bag was burnt."
"I stood facing him, and he recited the Kaddish, the orphan's Kaddish. He read the Torah, and I had to bless him," the Rabbi described.
"I told him, listen, Ariel, I know this scene, and I want to tell you something personal that deeply moves me – I, too, at my bar mitzvah, had neither a father nor a mother. Your sisters also perished on the same day. I became an orphan from my father at the age of 5 and a half, and at 7 and a half, they took my mother as well. And you see – it's possible to succeed. At the age of 13, I arrived in Jerusalem and accomplished many things. It all depends on you. I will be your friend, your brother in fate; we share a common destiny."
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