Bar / Bat Mitzvah Celebration for ALEH Jerusalem Residents

Bar / Bat Mitzvah Celebration for ALEH Jerusalem Residents

Jul 14, 2009

When a child becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah, it is a milestone celebrating maturity and responsibility, both for the young celebrant and his or her family.

But when the child is one with special needs, whose physical and cognitive disabilities seem to preclude any new developments, the occasion may take a different tone. It is not easy, especially for family and loved ones, to know that their child has reached this special age without any awareness of a change in status.

At ALEH, we believe that every child, regardless of the degree of disability, deserves to enjoy the same opportunities and experiences as his peers. That is why a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at ALEH is wholly a cause for rejoicing, and a chance to include the family in a very special event celebrating their special child.

The success of this approach was evident when 5 youngsters from ALEH Jerusalem recently celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. The moving ceremony was the climax of several months of preparations.  The boys visited the Kotel and laid Tefillin, while the girls traveled to Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb) with their mothers, and helped with hafrashat challah (separating the dough – a very special mitzvah for Jewish girls and women).  All the children prepared challah covers for their families, and some even worked on making their own siddur (prayer book) specially photocopied for their personal use.

The celebration itself attracted many distinguished visitors, friends and family members, some of whom traveled very far to attend the event. A beautiful slideshow was shown, showing all the activities the children had undertaken in preparation for the big day. Proud parents and friends marvelled at all the work that had gone into the past few months. “I remember when my older son was Bar Mitzvah,” said one parent, wiping away tears. “Even though the circumstances are very different, there was the same feeling of anticipation and excitement here, and the same level of enthusiasm expressed by everyone here. I am so proud of both my sons.”

Of course no celebration would be complete without song and dance, and that was ably provided by students of Yeshivat Morasha from Kiryat Moshe. The joy in the air was palpable as the students gathered with the rabbis and families to dance around the children, in celebration of their lives.

Speakers at the event included Yehuda Marmorstein, Director General of ALEH.  “The caregivers here work tirelessly on behalf of the children, serving as their eyes to the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Marmorstein. “They are constantly thinking up innovative ways to involve the families more and to improve quality of life.  We are truly blessed to have such amazing people serve as emissaries for our dear children.”

Rav Yisrael Eichler, an uncle of one of the children, described in glowing terms of the chessed done by ALEH. “Many of you may not know all the things that are accomplished within these walls,” he said.  “But those who understand the essence of chessed and giving know that ALEH’s efforts to provide the children with a quality life are unparalleled.”

Guest of honor was the venerable Rav Yitzchak Grossman, Rabbi of Migdal HaEmek, whose words were a source of inspiration and strength to all those assembled. “The children here may lack the ability to speak, to even say thank you,” said Rabbi Grossman, “but perhaps that is a sign of their purity of spirit. They will never pay mere lip service to their feelings, and they are unsullied by evil and corruption.” Addressing the families, he spoke of the power of faith as an underlying foundation for unconditional love and acceptance, explaining: “If we understand that everything comes from our Creator, and that we are all His handiwork, then we must accept that this is what is right for them – and for us.”

ALEH is proud to extend heartfelt Mazel Tov wishes to our very special youngsters and their families. We are honored to be part of your extended family!


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