On Monday, a group of 20 Holocaust survivors from the city of Ramat Hasharon celebrated their bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall with the help of the organization, “Keren Lemoreshet Hakotel Hamaaravi.” As young men, these survivors were undergoing the suffering of the Holocaust and therefore did not celebrate their bar mitzvahs at the age of 13.
It was a very moving ceremony as each survivor bound the tefillin on his arm, which still bears the numbers tattooed by the Nazis almost seventy years ago. With tears in their eyes, the participants shared their stories and then everyone went to daven at the Western Wall, accompanied by many young people, soldiers, and volunteers.
The Western Wall chaplain Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said, “This event shows the strong connection that the eternal people has with its traditions at all times and everywhere. We must always remember these times and pass them on to the next generations.” Rabbi Rabinowitz noted that this was one of the most moving occasions during his tenure at the Western Wall.
Chedva, the daughter of one of the survivors, tearfully related that her father’s “bar mitzvah gift” during the Holocaust was being tortured by the evil Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz.
“My father, who survived Birkenau and Auschwitz, jumped from the window of the death train and fled for his life. Now he is privileged to celebrate the special occasion that had been denied him, when he gets such nachas from his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom he has passed on his ancestral traditions and faith.”
Chedva added that what kept him alive in the Valley of Death and the hardest times of his life was his faith in his Creator and his unquenchable hope.
Another survivor said, “They made me a bar mitzvah in Theresienstadt. My mother took the tefillin to Theresienstadt, where an elderly Jew spoke in Hebrew and I didn’t understand a world. I was all alone there. Today, eighty years later, I’m celebrating my bar mitzvah with my family.”
The event was the best revenge against the Nazis, symbolizing a return to Jewish tradition and proving that it’s never too late. All of the survivors said that they felt as if the million and a half Jewish children who were murdered in the Holocaust before they reached the ages of bar and bas mitzvah were celebrating along with them.
This was the third such event that has been organized for elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel.
(SOURCE & PHOTO: COL.ORG.IL)