Israeli Police Host Bar-Mitzvah for Holocaust Survivor who Never Had One

The child grew up and was weaned, and Avraham held a great feast on the day that Yitzchak was weaned Genesis 21:8 (The Israel Bible™)

The Israeli police this celebrated a “Belated Bar-Mitzvah” for 82-year old Holocaust survivor Shalom Tayer.

Tayer was born in Libya survivor the Giado concentration camp under Mussolini. He never celebrated his Bar Mitzvah.

Bar mitzvah (son of commandment) happens when a Jewish boy turns 13, he has all the rights and obligations of a Jewish adult, including the commandments of the Torah. From that date, he will wear tefillin on a daily basis, participate in synagogue services and take his place in the Jewish community. This milestone—called a bar mitzvah—is often celebrated with a ceremony in synagogue and tefillin wearing.  It is sourced from Genesis 21 when Abraham has a feast after his son Isaac was ‘weaned’. A Bar Mitzvah can be celebrated anytime after the age of 13 (including age 82).

Since Tayer was a volunteer policeman, his colleagues decided to show their appreciation by putting together a Bar Mitzvah in the presence of his wife, daughters and friends.

Everyone in the place watched in excitement as he got an Aliyah to the Torah. Shalom called it a “powerful and unforgettable experience”.

Shalom was in good spirits.

But not all Holocaust survivors can say the same,

Many are still traumatized from the experience and require daily help just to complete their day-to-day tasks.

And that’s where you can step in and help.

That’s because many survivors suffer from physical and mental ailments like dementia. And although dementia is bad, for survivors it’s much worse.

Most people don’t realize that aside from short-term memory loss, the dementia of Holocaust survivors is a very different experience than that of regular patients.

That’s because when a survivor suffers dementia, the horrors of the Holocaust are fresh in their minds as if they are still reliving it to this day!

According to Shoshana Lichtman from the organization Melabev, these survivors “not only have nightmares about their horrible past, but many of them also daydream about it on a daily basis as well”.

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Lichtman recalls one survivor who enjoys writing. But no matter what she writes about, it keeps coming back to the same thing- the Holocaust and the ghettos in Warsaw and Poland, where she spent her youth.

What we can do to help

Although there is no actual cure to this unique type of dementia, there are ways to contain it.

Shoshana Lichtman from Melabev breaks it down into two separate treatments.

One is to let them vent.

These Holocaust survivors have a lot of pent up baggage from their experience. Therefore, it’s important that they just let it out and get it off of their chest. Melabev provides an open ear encouraging them to say what’s on their mind. The organization is there for them, enabling the survivors to get everything out of their system – either by either writing or just by talking.

Some of them are unable to talk and therefore opt for art therapy.

The other way to treat Holocaust Dementia is by keeping the survivors busy with fun and engaging activities.

These activities keep their minds occupied preventing them from reliving their horrid past. They include:

  • Discussions at meal-time
  • Arts and crafts
  • Cooking
  • Torah lectures
  • Packing meals for soldiers
  • Socialization
  • Music
  • Visits from local school children

“All of these activities give the survivors a much-needed sense of purpose in their final years on this earth” explains Lichtman.

This is your unique opportunity to show them that the nations are no longer their enemies. Donating today is the least you can do to help these people restore some iota of faith in the nations. But don’t take our word for it, just see what is written in Deuteronomy:

If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that Hashem your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)


This is your chance to open your hand from the comfort of your home. Let these poor survivors know that you are not one of them.

Donate to this incredible organization today.