(GPO/Mark Neiman) GPO/Mark Neiman
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Rivlin's house

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“I was three when my dad was killed. This year I wanted to tell my class who my dad was. I am very proud of him and happy that I got many of his characteristics,” participant Hila Ganon said.

By United with Israel Staff

On Thursday, 30 children who lost parents who served in the IDF and security forces shared their feelings during an emotional bar/bat mitzvah ceremony held at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s residence.

In the Jewish tradition, girls become “bat mitzvah” at the age of 12 and boys become “bar mitzvah” at the age of 13, a rite of passage that represents their gateway into adulthood with regard to performance of commandments and other communal responsibilities. The event is usually commemorated with a celebration attended by friends and family.

At the president’s ceremony last week, Israeli children faced this important day without their parent who had perished serving the nation.

On July 19, 2014, Major Amotz Greenberg was killed by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel in an attempt to carry out an attack on Israeli civilians.

“Dad was killed in Operation Defensive Shield. He went out on patrol in Gaza and seven terrorists fought him and the soldiers he was with and my dad did not survive the bullet that hit him,” his daughter Shira said.

“Now, I am at a new school in a new class and it’s even harder. I don’t know how to tell the kids that my dad was killed. When they ask me where my dad is, I don’t know how to begin to tell them. I don’t want them to pity me,” she added.

On Oct. 29, 2007, IDF reservist Maj. Ehud Efrati was killed on the southern Gaza Strip, near the Sufa crossing. His squad identified two armed Palestinians moving toward the border fence and approached them. The Palestinians responded with gunfire, and one of the bullets struck a grenade that was attached to Efrati’s combat jacket.

“I was four months old when my dad was killed. It was when Hamas were firing rockets and my dad was in the paratroops. He was on the last day of his reserve duty,” his son Raz said.

Israel Prisons Service Inspector Maor Ganon lost his life in the 2010 Carmel forest fires.

“I was three when my dad was killed. This year I wanted to tell my class who my dad was. I am very proud of him and happy that I got many of his characteristics. It is important to me that people know who he was and what he did,” his daughter Hila said.

“After hearing all of the heartbreaking stories,” Rivlin commented, “I cannot hide my emotions. I am very moved. The age of bar and bat mitzvah is a special age for the Jewish people, when boys and girls grow up and take on both many rights but also many responsibilities and duties. Sitting with you today is very moving because I know I am talking to young people who had to start growing up long before the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah.”

“You were forced to grow up, to help the family that experiences the great loss every moment of the day. As president and as a citizen I am full of admiration for you and your families on behalf of all Israelis,” he said. “Your Bar Mitzvah is celebrated by the whole country, and as moving as it is for you, it is perhaps even more moving for us. Mazal Tov to you dear ones. I am so happy to host you here.”

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