Nava and Uriah Team Up to Celebrate
The overwhelming excitement of the double Bat Mitzvah celebrated at ALEH Jerusalem during the week of Passover will be remembered for years.
It all began when Nava Sielger of New Jersey decided to take her Bat Mitzvah celebration to the next level by joining ALEH’s Bat Mitzvah Twinning Program. Twelve-year-old Nava adopted Uriah Shayna as her Bat Mitzvah partner, adding extra value to her own Bat Mitzvah celebration.
Nava and Uriah began exchanging WhatsApp videos and pictures in a correspondence that continued for months. Nava sent frequent pictures and told Uriah all about herself, her Bat Mitzvah preparations, her trips, her hobbies and more. Uriah watched the videos regularly and over time the two young girls formed a sister-like relationship.
Upon getting to know Uriah and understanding her needs, Nava stepped up to the bat, taking the initiative to raise funds necessary to provide Uriah with a new bed, as well as the hydrotherapy sessions she so desperately needs. Sharing pictures and videos on Facebook, Nava interested relatives and friends and, together with a bake sale run from her house, raised close to US$ 10,000 to benefit her friend.
Towards the end of a recent trip to Israel with her mother, Debbie, Nava proclaimed she simply could not return home without visiting Uriah. The emotion-packed meeting took place at ALEH Jerusalem, after which Nava decided she wanted to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah in Israel together with Uriah.
The big day finally arrived. 40 members of Nava’s extended family, in Israel especially to mark this special occasion, arrived at ALEH Jerusalem, joining staff and volunteers to celebrate Nava and Uriah’s important life milestone.
Nava expressed her gratitude and excitement, saying “Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate our Bat Mitzvah with Uriah and me. I am so excited that I got to know Uriah, that we were able to send each other videos and pictures, and that I was able to share this special day with Uriah. I hope that we’ll continue being in touch in the future. Mazel Tov to both of us!”
Debbie, Nava’s mother, added, “We are very excited to be here at ALEH Jerusalem and to celebrate Nava and Uriah’s Bat Mitzvah. After months of corresponding with videos and pictures, we celebrated together, we met Uriah’s family, and it was an amazing surprise and wonderful celebration. We are so proud of Nava and her initiative, and we thank everyone who partnered with us and made this possible.”
“It is very exciting to be here and celebrate Nava’s Bat Mitzvah, and especially to see Nava and Uriah meet and celebrate together as if they’ve always known each other,” said Mira, Uriah’s mother. “It’s hard to put these feelings into words, and the gratitude we have towards Nava and her family, who did what they did for Uriah.”
“Though Uriah cannot communicate verbally, she responds with love and connects to people in her surroundings,” explained Shlomit Grayevsky, CEO of ALEH Jerusalem. “She doesn’t understand every word, but she can understand the general meaning and spirit of the conversation with a girl of her age, especially an ongoing conversation that has been taking place over a number of months. One of the things that is important to us it to celebrate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah for each child, establishing normative life situations and social integration.”