President Hosts Bnei Mitzvot Ceremony for Terrorist Victims

December 29, 2014  

President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin held a Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration at the President’s residence for 50 children who are the victims or related to victims of terrorist attacks.  

Among the children who celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s were three orphans whose parents were killed during the Second Intifada: Yigal Paizkov, Michelle Levine, and Nadav Wolanski.

Yigal, whose parents, Oleg and Ludmilla, were killed in the terror attack on the Hilton hotel in Taba in October 2004, is being raised by his grandparents. 

Michelle’s parents Eitan and Rima were killed in a shooting attack near the Shoket intersection in February 2004 was adopted by her aunt. 

Nadav’s parents Abraham-Isaac and Avital Yocheved were killed in a shooting attack in August 2002 on the Ramallah-Nablus road. Nadav’s older brother, Yigal, who was also injured in the attack. 

Also participating in the event were boys and girls who are the bereaved siblings and children of relatives wounded in terrorist attacks.

The event was also attended by Chairman of The Terror Victims Association, Yehoshua Cohen; CEO of the National Insurance Institute, Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef; and singer Moshe Peretz.

The President said to the children celebrating their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, “On this special day, during which you celebrate the acceptance of the commandments, I’m happy to have the privilege to take part in your joyous occasion.” 

“The Jewish life cycle, is a circle ranging from sadness to joy, from joy to sadness. Each and every one of us has experienced in life, moments of joy and thanksgiving, and moments grief and loss. Even at the most happy of occasions we do not forget our loved ones, the father, mother, brother or sister, who aren’t able to celebrate with us here today.”

“There is a price to our being Jewish, to our independence, sometimes, the price is too high and almost always, the price we pay is unbearable. An unbearable price that each one of you knows first-hand, but there is also a lot of power and strength which should be remembered.” 

At the end of his statement, President Rivlin congratulated the audience and said, “Dear boys and girls, we love you and are proud of you. You have paid a heavy price, but you deserve unlimited joy. The people of Israel and the State of Israel will accompany you along your way and throughout your adult life. I am sure all of you will be a source of hope and pride to your loving families.” 

Also delivering a speech at the event was Orel Mamistalov, a 12-year-old girl, who was the youngest daughter of the late Joseph Mamistalov, the bus driver who was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv in 2002.

Orel told the President and the First Lady, “A month and a half after I was born, my father was killed in a terrorist attack. That day my father drove the No. 4 ‘Dan’ bus. As he passed the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street, a bomb went off. My father recognized there was a terrorist and prevented him from getting on the bus, thereby saving the lives of dozens of passengers on the bus.”

“I grew up in the reality of a fatherless life, only recognizing my father from pictures and stories and without a memory of a hug or kiss from a father.  A childhood without a father is a difficult childhood. The fact that my father is not with me physically is very difficult, but he is always in my heart.”

Yehoshua Cohen, Chairman of the Terror Victims Association, said, “The Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony that the organization hosts has become a tradition for 12 years now, and there is one aspect that is particularly significant. Each and every one of these children paid a personal and heavy price during the years of their short life so far – the death or injury of a family member in a terrorist attack.”

“I believe that in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony we have the ultimate answer to all those terror organizations that aspire to kill us and destroy our lives in Israel – it symbolizes that they will never be able to do so.”

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