110 boys, all of whom have lost a parent, celebrated a mass Bar Mitzva ceremony at the Western Wall today, in the 21st annual communal bar mitzva organized by Colel Chabad, honoring the Rebbe's 110th birthday.
Chabad originally organized mass bar mitzvas for immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU), explained Rabbi Sholom Duchman, the director of Colel Chabad, the social welfare branch of Chabad. As immigration from the FSU tapered off, they turned their attention to boys who have lost one or both parents due to terror attacks, car accidents, cancer and other tragedies, he said.
“The advantage of them being together is because they don’t want to go to synagogue [for their bar mitzva] because they don’t have their father, and a father is a major figure in the synagogue,” Duchman said. “They want to wipe it off, stay away from it. But doing it with other kids in the same situation gives them the push they want to do it.”
After the ceremony at the Western Wall, the 110 boys and their families attended a festive party at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. The NIS 600,000 event was attended by: Israel’s Chief Rabbis,Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar; 10 ministers including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi; mayors; and other public leaders.