Saturday, May 19, 2012

Holocaust survivors celebrates bar mitzvah 70 years late.

Survivors celebrate late Bar Mitzvah Some 70 years late, 13 holocaust survivors place tefillin, read Haftara with Bar Mitzva boys

They were supposed to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah 70 years ago, but the hardships and persecution of the holocaust prevented their Aliyah to the Torah at the age of 13. On Thursday, 13 holocaust survivors finally got the chance to celebrate the Jewish coming of age at the Western Wall.

In a heartfelt ceremony, the 13 senior citizens from Givatayim who managed to escape the death camps of World War II, celebrated their Bar Mitzvah. The survivors fulfilled their dream to have the ceremony, believing that better late than never. 

The survivors, many of them had Bar Mitzvah celebrations for their sons and grandsons, shared their celebrations with dozens of 13 year-old boys having their Aliyah to the Torah at the Western Wall. They laid tefilin next to the numbers tattoos, remnants from their horrific experiences, and later read the Haftara like all Bar-Miztvah boys.

אומרים "שמע ישראל" ברחבת הכותל
Saying "Shema Yisrael" in Kotel

Pini Rosenberg (81), a survivor who made Aliyah in 1948, is still working as a tour guide. He spoke about the importance of Jerusalem for him and his family before and during the holocaust. He also commemorated the children who were murdered in the holocaust, saying "1.5 million children - including friends of mine – did not get to have this celebration."

הניצולים עם רב הכותל 
The survivors with the Western Wall's rabbi

In the dinner following the ceremonies the survivors shared their stories with the Bar Mitzvah boys and guests. Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said this is one of the most moving events he had in his function, and a unique event in the history of the holy site. "Darkness and light are mixed here, but hope is absolute. This is a testimony for the eternity of the Jewish people," said Rabinovitch. 

The event was organized with the assistance of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Givatayim municipality, ORT Technikum Givatayim high school, and Aish HaTorah Yeshiva. 87 additional survivors participated in the ceremony.

Holocaust survivor celebrates bar mitzvah

(CNN) - Sol Laufer, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor, celebrated his bar mitzvah Saturday.

The German native missed his chance as a young man to celebrate the coming-of-age ritual, which young Jewish men participate in at age 13, because his family was on the run. At age 14, he ended up in a concentration camp.

"I am doing this to proclaim to the Nazis that they did not succeed," Laufer told CNN affiliate WWSB. "Here I am, after all of that. I am healthy, I have a nice family, and I am having a bar mitzvah."

Laufer was the lone survivor from his family and said he was able to survive only by thinking of his mother.

"I used to dream that she was with me, holding me and feeding me water. She would tell me that I would be OK and I need to have patience," he told WWSB.

Rabbi Chain Steinmetz conducted the service at Chabad of Sarasota, Florida.

"I almost had a sleepless night last night because of the excitement that fills me. To be able to be a part of this is something I will cherish the rest of my life," the rabbi said.

Laufer decided to have his bar mitzvah after discussions with his wife, Sadie, and Steinmetz.

He now joins his three children and five grandchildren who have marked their coming of age.


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