(JNS.org) The Jewish welfare organization Colel Chabad on Wednesday hosted a bat mitzvah celebration for 36 girls who have lost a parent. Most of the parents died from illness or terror attacks, and one bat mitzvah girl's father was the first Israel Defense Forces casualty during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas.
At the celebration, which took place at Colel Chabad's Gutnick Hall in Jerusalem, the girls took professional photos and were treated (along with their families and friends) to catered meals, music, and dancing. The girls also each received a personalized birthday gift.
“Family milestones can be much more stressful and difficult, both financially and emotionally, without a parent,” said Rabbi Amram Blau, director of Colel Chabad's bar and bat mitzvah program for bereaved youths, known as Chesed Menachem Mendel. “It’s heartwarming to see the joy on the faces of these young women and their families in reaching this momentous occasion.”
“The world gains strength from you young women,” said Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, a popular Torah scholar who spoke at the Jerusalem bat mitzvah event. “When we see your beautiful smiling faces, glowing from this special celebration, and we know all the hardships you have been through, we can’t help but feel that we must smile and be happy as well.”