For Israeli victims of loss to terror or other tragedy, one of the most challenging aspects of coping with their personal pain comes as they approach what are meant to be joyous lifecycle events.
For such families, these can be simply more salt poured on the wounds generated by the loss their family has experienced. Recently, the Colel Chabad organization held a joint Bat Mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem to address this challenging mix of emotions, working to create a day of joy for 37 girls and their families and friends where for a window in time, they could forget the ache that simply never leaves them.
Each of the girls had experienced direct loss; many of the families said they appreciated being able to celebrate alongside others who understand those unique challenges.
Among the girls was the daughter of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, z’l, a beloved father of six, teacher and Magen David Adom medic who was murdered in January 2018 by Palestinian Authority terrorists in a shooting attack while driving home, just outside his community of Havat Gilad in Samaria.
Rabbi Shevach’s wife Yael was left to care for their family. She described the Colel Chabad event as a form of ‘medicine.’
“The reality is that victims of terror are, sadly, in their own category,” she said. “We are forced to approach these events differently. But days like today allow our daughters to feel while there is sadness and loss we are also able to experience joy and happiness. Only afterwards will we again process the loss that brought us here; but for a few hours our children and these girls can feel they’re normal and happy bat mitzvah girls.”
The Bat Mitzva sponsored by Colel Chabad and Keren Meromim included a fully catered banquet with entertainment and activities for the girls and more than 250 people in attendance. The girls participated in a challah-baking experience and dancing. Each of the girls and their mothers were presented with a gift before leaving the hall.
“The purpose of these events is to allow each and every girl who has experienced such a personal tragedy to know that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad. “To have your bat mitzvah after experiencing such a loss is very difficult, but we make every effort to infuse the day with happiness and allow these girls and their families to celebrate alongside others who most appreciate what it means to be joyous and heartbroken at the very same time.”
Colel Chabad, founded in 1788, is Israel’s longest continuously running social services organization, supporting those in need throughout the year, financially, socially, and emotionally through its various programs and activities.