Two weeks ago, students of CHW Hadassim celebrated their bar & bat mitzvahs with a brand new Torah scroll, which was welcomed into the youth village the previous evening, with the pomp & circumstance customary in the Jewish religion. The events were attended by proud parents as well as WIZO leaders, including Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky and President Esther Mor.
Three years ago, when French students started to arrive at CHW Hadassim through the Na'ale Program, which brings Jewish youth from around the world to Israel for a high school education, hopefully leading to Aliyah, Ze'ev Twitto, Director of CHW Hadassim, realized that something was missing.
"The French students came from traditional Jewish families, and their parents requested that we create a space where they could pray, light Shabbat candles and read the siddur. This was the impetus for creating the synagogue space at the village."
For the past three years, Twitto has successfully raised money for the youth village's synagogue room but needed an extra, significant sum in order to purchase a Torah to house in it. Eventually a generous Jewish family from London answered the call.
On Wednesday evening, January 11th WIZO students, staff and leaders gathered for the festive ceremony in which the last sentence of the Torah scroll was symbolically written by all present and the Torah was carried to its new resting place.
The next day, the youth village's 12 and 13-year old boys and girls celebrated their bar & bat mitzvahs using the brand new Torah. The religious ceremony was followed by an outdoor party with food stations and live music.
"I am not a religious person," commented Ze'ev Twitto, "but I must admit that the celebration for the new Torah scroll, with its traditional Jewish aspect, was very moving."
"WIZO is proud to be able to provide bar & bat mitzvahs for the students of our institutions who, because of financial difficulties or complicated family situations, might not otherwise have one," said Prof. Rivka Lazovsky.