For years, David,* a studious, popular student at Boys Town Jerusalem, had been looking forward to his Bar Mitzvah but just six weeks before his 13th birthday, this dream fell apart when his parents started divorce proceedings. Sadly, the situation deteriorated rapidly and the Bar Mitzvah plans were changed and cancelled time and time again.
Sadly, the situation became so bad that David ran away from home just two weeks before his Bar Mitzvah.
As David’s situation reached a low point, Boys Town Jerusalem’s teachers and social workers made special efforts to assist him. This included speaking to his parents individually but it appeared that no solution was available to resolving their differences to allow David to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. However, BTJ Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosenfeld found a innovative compromise: the Bar Mitzvah would be held at the Boys Town synagogue on a Thursday morning for David’s family and classmates, with a festive reception after the ceremony (prepared in BTJ’s kitchen), followed by a Bowling Party for David and his entire class. The school pledged to make all of the arrangements and cover the majority of the expenses.
So, against considerable odds, David ultimately celebrated a beautiful, meaningful Bar Mitzvah ceremony. He was called to the Torah to recite the age-old Bar Mitzvah blessings and confidently chanted the Torah portion, his family, classmates, teachers – and particularly his mother and father – were visibly moved. At the reception, the tension was broken the instant the Boys Town students began dancing with David to celebrate.
“Every Jewish boy deserves to have a meaningful, joyful Bar Mitzvah to remember,” said Rabbi Rosenfeld. “Fortunately, Boys Town has gained the merit to replace trauma with happiness for David and many other deserving students like him.”
* not his real name