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Children of Fallen Soldiers, Police Officers, Celebrate Their Bar and Bar Mitzvah at MOTJ

April 4, 2024

“Today is a holiday for you and us, as you enter the world of adulthood,” President Isaac Herzog told a group of 48 boys and girls of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization who celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem on April 4.

 “You have a journey ahead, but it is filled with huge opportunities… and I want to say thank you – you represent all of the people of Israel, and we give you a big hug and strength, hoping you will only have good days. You are all heroes in your own right, and I am so proud of you,” he told them in private and public ceremony in the Museum’s new main event hall. The event, packed with dozens of soldiers and police officers sharing in the somber yet uplifting celebration, was supposed to take place on October 12 but was postponed due to the war, organization CEO Shlomi Nahumson said. “It is a difficult time for the people of Israel, and these children paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “It is our obligation not only to celebrate but to deliver the message that we acknowledge the sacrifice they made and we will continue to take care of them and their families.” Nahumson added that due to the war, which broke out on October 7 following a mass terror attack by Hamas, 530 new children have been added to his organization’s purview. “Some are celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah today, while others will in the years to come,” he said. Following the private ceremony with the president, where all the children took pictures with him and his wife Michal, a main event took place in the Museum’s Snider Theater, where the children and foreign delegations of donors joined the celebration. Tami Shelah, the Chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, told the children “We know your pain, and the price you paid, and we will always support you on your journey.” The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem CEO Jonathan Rees blessed the children, adding “If you have a dream, you can reach out,” pointing out the dream-turned-reality of the building of the Museum. In between speeches, members of the IDF Orchestra sang uplifting songs for children, within the songs emphasizing the message of strength and perseverance, something these children innately know. Also addressing the new adults were IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai, who sent their well-wishes in pre-recorded video messages. Finally, Israeli pop star Static took the stage and performed a private concert for the attendees, bringing great joy to the children who sang and danced along. Following the event, Rabbi Shmuel Bistritzky, who leads a congregation in Savyon in central Israel, and of whom his congregants are large supporters of the organization, told the Museum, “Every one of these children is like of the the people of Israel, it is very emotional to be here.” Concluding, he said “Our community and the whole country will always love and care for these children.”

Photos: Tzahi Kraus

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