JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 110 Israeli children who are orphaned or lost one parent celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in Jerusalem.
The 70 boys and 40 girls were hosted Monday at the celebration by the Chesed Menachem Mendel program of the Colel Chabad charitable organization. Many of the participating children come from needy families.
In a ceremony at the Western Wall, each bar mitzvah was gifted a set phylacteries, or tefillin, and a prayer shawl, or tallit. They also each received a new kippah and tie. Each of the boys was called up to the Torah for his first aliyah.
Each bat mitzvah participated in a "hafrashat challah" ceremony in which they learned about the mitzvah of separating a portion of the dough as a symbolic offering to the priestly class, or kohanim. They were given a silver candlestick and treated to studio portraits as a gift.
A reception including a festive banquet was held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center after the day's events for the honorees, their families and friends.
“On days like today we want these children to feel the joy that any normal child experiences on their bar mitzvah and do our best to make that happen,” Rabbi Sholom Duchman, international director of Colel Chabad, said in a statement.