President Reuven Rivlin hosted 53 children in celebration of their milestone coming-of-age event. They had all experienced or lost a family member to Palestinian terror.

President Reuven Rivlin hosted a festive event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Monday evening to celebrate the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of 53 children, victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks.

The event, held annually, was a celebratory end to a day packed with activities in Jerusalem planned for the children by the Association of Victims of Terrorism.

The children had experienced terrorism themselves or lost loved ones in attacks.

In his opening remarks, the president congratulated the boys and girls celebrating the milestone occasion, which, in Judaism, marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, saying he was privileged to participate with them “in this joyous and important event.”

Addressing the children on this bittersweet day, Rivlin told them that “each bears the scars of the Jewish nation’s struggle for its homeland.”

Noa Meir, whose mother Dafna was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist at the entrance to her home in Otniel last January, recounted how she had dreamt of planning her Bat Mitzvah celebration and how she shared those dreams with her mother late into the night.

“Mother will see me grow and blossom, she will stand by me from afar and pray over me, but on a day-to-day basis I miss her so much. I felt her presence during my Bat Mitzvah party… her great spirit lives within me and will push me forward to become a source of pride for my mother.”

Rivlin said that while most of the world recognized Israel’s right to its land, there are still those who deny it and fight against it. “This war has harmed your childhood, the loss is immense, but it’s part of our struggle.”

Minister of Welfare Chaim Katz noted that while the children were not yet adults, many of them were forced to mature early, adding that he sees within them Israel’s bright future.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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