(Mark Neiman/GPO)
Rvilin Bar Mitzvah

President Reuven Rivlin hosted 58 children who had lost a family member to Palestinian terror, in celebration of their milestone coming-of-age event.

President Reuven Rivlin hosted a festive event at the President’s Residence on Monday evening to celebrate the Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s of 58 children, victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks.

The event, which is 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.

In his opening remarks, the President congratulated the boys and girls celebrating the reaching of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, which marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, saying he was privileged to participate with them “in this joyous and important event.”

Even though the children passed into adulthood only now, “you young people, who make up the family of the victims of terrorism, have had to handle some of these pressures too soon and too quickly. From an early age you handled loss, pain, responsibility, changes and physical and mental difficulties. You have had to grow up prematurely and often abruptly. There are those of you who were born into bereavement. They know the father, mother, sister or brother who was taken away in a disaster, only from stories and pictures. There are those of you who still remember the last encounter with their loved ones, who left and never returned. And there are those of you who were ‘there’ – who bear the scars of the attack in their minds and on their bodies. All of you have chosen to grow out of the difficulty and out of pain.”

Against All Odds

During his speech, Rivlin addressed Naor Shalev, who spoke on behalf of children celebrating at the event. Naor was injured last October when a terrorist his age stabbed him in the neck, in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem. “We all closely and anxiously followed Naor’s situation”, the President said, adding, “We prayed for Naor’s well-being and recovery. Today, against all odds, Naor is with us, celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. Naor – we are so excited to celebrate with you. Your celebration – like the celebrations of all of you – symbolizes the triumph of joy over pain and the victory of life.”

Naor said that he is occupied by the thought that his life could have ended “all because of my attacker, a boy my age, educated on hate and resentment of the Jewish people, who hurt me just because I was a Jew.”

Although confronted by many challenges, he says he is “willing to deal with everything and not give up.”

Rivlin concluded by blessing the children that “the gates that will open for you now and in the future be the gates of hope, joy and happiness. Please continue to believe, dare to dream and achieve. Receive with love the new responsibilities laid on your young shoulders and make proper and welcome use of it.”

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel