As part of a program created by Young Israel in Israel’s Judaic Heritage Program for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and World Mizrachi, thirty deaf and hard of hearing students from around Israel celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in Jerusalem this week.
The program began at the Beit Knesset Nitzanim in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, with the boys donning their tefillin and receiving a tallit and siddur.
A sign language translator was also present. The girls also received a volume of Tehillim and candlesticks created by renowned Israeli artist Emanuel (psalms).
The party of 21 boys and nine girls had a celebratory supper and then went to the Old City for a tour and another ceremony at the Western Wall.
Young people from all over Israel came to Jerusalem to attend special schools that cater to their hearing needs.
Rivka Morowitz, a mother of eight kids, three of whom have special needs, came with her son Meir, who has Down syndrome and is deaf.
“This event allowed Meir to know that something special was being done just for him, and he now knows that he is being introduced to the world of Jewish adulthood in a meaningful way that he and our family will always remember,” Morovitz said.
“There are few more rewarding things than witnessing a child who, despite his or her limitations, realizes that they are being counted and can celebrate in a way that respects their specific needs and interests,” said Daniel Meyer, executive director of Young Israel in Israel. “Many of these parents were told that their child would never talk or be able to learn. It’s heartwarming to see how far these children have come and the mountains they have had to climb to get to this point. This is a moment that every one of these children is sure to cherish for the rest of their lives,” Morovitz added.
The beauty of Jewish life is that it is immersive and engages all people, including those with specific challenges, according to Rabbi Doron Perez, chair of World Mizrachi.
To meet their particular requirements, we as a community are committed to making sure that these young people may enjoy the bar and bat mitzvah’s key transitional moments.