100 Jewish teens from around Europe returned home from a coming-of-age trip to Israel in honor of their Bar and Bas Mitzvahs.
It was organized by the European Morasha organization, an affiliate of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association headed by Rabbi Menachem Margolin, in cooperation with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
For over a week, the children traveled with Morasha’s director Rabbi Mendy Pevzner and a few Chabad Shluchim to holy sites, historic buildings and educational outings of the Holy Land.
The tour concluded with an emotional Bar/Bas Mitzvah ceremony at the Kotel, where each child received a valuable gift, followed by a lavish meal with Rabbi Yitzchak Yossef, Israel’s Chief Rabbi and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Kotel.
For many of the children, the trip was a dream come true. “Many of them come from families with financial difficulties,” said Pevzner. “This was a unique ceremony for them and that is why we invested the most possible in the experience.”
Participants were carefully chosen by the Shluchim. “These are children who don’t learn in Jewish institutions and are prone to the severe dangers of assimilation,” said one of the Shluchim.
“They are in touch with Chabad either through the Sunday School or Talmud Torah on Wednesdays, and some of them have even less of a connection. This trip will be engraved in their souls, and it will only strengthen from here.”
The trip was produced by Tzvi Goldwag tours with the help of Fleishman production.
Pictures by Yoel Balinko