“My mother abandoned me and my two little brothers many years ago, my father doesn’t work. We live on food packages from the welfare office and whatever money we get Dad spends on alchohol. When he’s drunk, he curses and beats us, he’s most brutal with my little brother who is autistic. My aunt, who is in her 60s, came to live with us and tries to help but my father curses her too and last night she said she was leaving.”
Itamar, 12, joined Boys Town Jerusalem in September, and has carried this with him and only now, as his Bar Mitzvah approaches, did he find the courage to confide in one of Boys Town Jerusalem’s full-time social workers, Hadas Knopf.
Itamar went on to tell Hadas that he had decided to share his story as he has been thinking about his Bar Mitzvah. “Can I have it here in school? My aunt and my little brother will be the only guests. Will my classmates laugh at me?” he asked Hadas.
After comforting him, Hadas contacted the welfare office, met with Itamar’s aunt and began putting a plan in place with the staff at Boys Town Jerusalem to help him. “He carries a terrible, lonely burden, trying to protect his brothers and even his aunt. At age twelve, he’s had no childhood, and very little love. We need to give this child the strength to meet the struggles he faces every day.”
As for Itamar’s Bar Mitzvah, Principal Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov assured Itamar that it will take place in the Boys Town Jerusalem synagogue, he will have his teachers and his entire class by his side and they will all celebrate together at the school with a special breakfast and and outing for the whole class, at no cost to his family.
When Itamar was told this, his only thought was for his younger brother “can my younger brother join us? It’s very important to me.”
“We can’t replace the happy childhood that Itamar has been robbed of,” Hadas admitted, “but we can give him the emotional and practical support he needs to start living the life he deserves.”