SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A 99-year-old man living in Australia celebrated his bar mitzvah.
Isaac Volinsky joined a group of about 40 Jews from the former Soviet Union at a Chabad house near Sydney’s Bondi Beach for the first time last week.
When Rabbi Eli Schlanger discovered that Volinsky had never been to the weekly “120 Club” for elderly expat Soviets before, he asked if he would like to put on tefillin.
Schlanger said Volinsky told him he never had a bar mitzvah in his native Odessa. “It was an amazing scene,” Schlanger said. “The first time a Jewish boy puts on tefillin is regarded as his bar mitzvah and all the club members treated it as a simcha. They were all standing and singing ‘mazel tov’.”
Schlanger, who speaks Yiddish and “enough Russian for the elderly to smile,” said Volinsky was “absolutely mobile and lucid.”
Volinsky, a former colonel in the Russian army, will celebrate his centenary in six months.