The Jewish charity Colel Chabad on Monday hosted a mass bar mitzvah celebration at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for 113 boys who had lost a parent.
Each boy received a new set of tallit and tefillin as well as a dress tie and kippah, and made the traditional blessing over the Torah for the first time.
Many of the boys came from economically disadvantaged families that could not have afforded to organize a full bar mitzvah celebration. Causes of death for the boys’ parents included illness, accidents, terrorism, and suicide.
The Colel Chabad bar mitzvah program, in its seventh year, was the brainchild of Rabbi Yitzchak Mishan of Brazil, a father of 13 who lost his wife to illness. Colel Chabad also runs a bat mitzvah program for girls.
“During times of happiness, I know that these families feel that something is missing in their lives,” Mishan said in a statement. “So our goal was to ensure that these children know that they are not alone, that they can be truly happy, and that life will go on despite the obvious pain and loss they are feeling.”