September 9, 2009 / 20 Elul, 5769
Representatives from the United Jewish Israel Appeal recently had the unique privilege of attending a festive bar mitzvah celebration of 40 immigrant children from Ethiopia who have reached their thirteenth year.
It was a time for celebration in the Jewish Agency’s Tzahal 9 Absorption Center in Safed as 40 new immigrants from Ethiopia, who celebrated their bar mitzvah two months ago, completed their special “Shorashim” bar mitzvah project with an exciting event. The facility was exquisitely decorated and special audio-visual features were brought to add to the festive atmosphere. And, to top it off, the party was graced with the presence of prominent guests from England, Karen Goodkind and Linda Plant, who had come to celebrate this unique moment with the bar mitzvah boys.
Over the course of the project, each boy prepared a personal presentation which showed pictures of his extended family as well as of his “twin” brother in England with whom he had corresponded via e-mail during the last year.
Immigrant families that had left the absorption center to permanent residences outside Safed came to the party en masse.
The guests from England, who were accompanied by the representatives of the United Jewish Israel Appeal in northern Israel, Sharon Steinbaum-Open and Sefton Bergson, were greeted with a traditional ceremony of boneh (coffee) and dabu (bread) by the leaders of the Ethiopian community in a tukul (Ethiopian hut). The immigrants expressed their appreciation for this successful project.
Afterward, the guests viewed a video presentation about the bar mitzvah process and the Shorashim project, which connects children with parents, and children in England with immigrant children in Israel.
The emotional ceremony included warm speeches by Karen and Linda, the distribution of digital cameras to each bar mitzvah boy, and traditional dances with the children and their parents.
Everyone involved left teary-eyed, feeling a genuine sense of family, belonging and togetherness.
The guests promised to continue the project next year.