A bar or bat mitzvah is a significant point in each individual’s life. This age symbolizes entry into adulthood and the first step toward the grownup world. We all remember marking this day in our lives; the ceremony at the synagogue, celebrations in the reception hall or at home, the many gifts received, the family photo album filled with memories, and all the guests who came, often from far away, to spend this joyful family moment together.
For bereaved children of the IDF and security forces, the joy of this day is tinged with sadness; their celebration is veiled with the shadow of a memory, as always. Birthday celebrations for every boy and girl, whatever their ethnicity, is a day of being together with extended family and friends, especially when celebrating a milestone. It is also a time when the orphans feel very much alone. Their father is missing, present only as an imprint on the heart. His echo fills every cranny, and his smile radiates perpetually from a photo alone. There is no one, of course, who can take his place.
In honor of the children’s bar and bat mitzvah, the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization holds an exciting and moving celebration annually.
On this day, we very lovingly embrace the children with a warm welcome and introduce them to a large, receptive community that will remain with them not only at times of vulnerability, but also on happy occasions, and this day is a happy one. On this day they learn about values and what is important. They meet with the state president and celebrate in a religious ceremony which we adapt to their faith and tradition. But most importantly, everyone celebrates together.
They are also honored at a distinguished evening ceremony attended by the minister of defense, the chief of staff, and esteemed guests, all of whom have arrived to celebrate with them. We make sure to embrace them tightly on this day, and shower them with the attention and love they so deserve.