A group of 115 orphaned boys celebrated their bar mitzvah together in Jerusalem on Thursday, marking the occasion at the Western Wall in an effort coordinated by Colel Chabad, a veteran social services organization in Israel.
The program for the bar mitzvah boys is in its 15th year.
The boys formed a diverse group, some from observant backgrounds, others experiencing a religious service for the first time in their lives. What united them was the loss of a parent. Some had lost their father or mother to illness, others to tragic accidents, terror attacks, and suicide.
Each boy was given a new prayer shawl and phylacteries, and took part in writing a letter in a new Torah scroll dedicated by a Ra’anana family in honor of their own son’s bar mitzvah.
They were also treated to a shopping spree at Zara to look their best for the occasion.
Many of the boys are from low-income families, and the funding for the bar mitzvah celebration came from Colel Chabad donors.
At the Western Wall, each boy was danced under a huppah, accompanied by drums, trumpets and singing, to the ancient wall, where they made the blessing over the Torah for the first time.
Following the ceremony, the boys continued the celebration at the city’s Binyanei Hauma International Convention Center, where they celebrated with dancing, formal photos and gifts.