In a heartfelt ceremony, the 13 senior citizens from Givatayim who managed to escape the death camps of World War II, celebrated their Bar Mitzvah. The survivors fulfilled their dream to have the ceremony, believing that better late than never.
The survivors, many of them had Bar Mitzvah celebrations for their sons and grandsons, shared their celebrations with dozens of 13 year-old boys having their Aliyah to the Torah at the Western Wall. They laid tefilin next to the numbers tattoos, remnants from their horrific experiences, and later read the Haftara like all Bar-Miztvah boys.
Saying "Shema Yisrael" in Kotel
Pini Rosenberg (81), a survivor who made Aliyah in 1948, is still working as a tour guide. He spoke about the importance of Jerusalem for him and his family before and during the holocaust. He also commemorated the children who were murdered in the holocaust, saying "1.5 million children - including friends of mine – did not get to have this celebration."
The survivors with the Western Wall's rabbi
In the dinner following the ceremonies the survivors shared their stories with the Bar Mitzvah boys and guests. Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said this is one of the most moving events he had in his function, and a unique event in the history of the holy site. "Darkness and light are mixed here, but hope is absolute. This is a testimony for the eternity of the Jewish people," said Rabinovitch.
The event was organized with the assistance of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Givatayim municipality, ORT Technikum Givatayim high school, and Aish HaTorah Yeshiva. 87 additional survivors participated in the ceremony.