Thousands of Jewish children throughout Europe come from welfare families, and have no opportunity to organize their Bar / Bat Mitzvah celebration, which can adversely affect their future not only in the social sense, but also in their heritage, their belonging to the Jewish people, to the Jewish community and to their life of Torah and Mitzvot.
The RCE decided to take responsibility for the Bar / Bat Mitzvah issue and build a unique program, first of its kind: “Bar / Bat Mitzvah Journey to the Holy Land” – an experience that combines Jewish studies, tefillin ceremony and a Bar Mitzvah celebration at the Western Wall, remains of our Holy Temple. All this alongside tours of historic sites, excursions, and trip sand expeditions throughout Israel.
The purpose of the trip is to provide these children with a Bar / Bat Mitzvah celebration as other children from the Jewish nation, and even more so, turn this date into an unforgettable zenith that will shape their spiritual image.
3 months before arrival in Israel, the journey begins with Rabbis and Rebbetzins teaching basic Jewish values and concepts to the children and examining their knowledge. During the tour in Israel a final exam is conducted. The youth who excel receive a special award: a silver goblet or a silver candlestick.
The tour through Israel lasts 8 days and is action-packed with unforgettable experiences. The children are accompanied by guides and instructors who come with them from the country of origin and are also fluent in Hebrew. The RCE hosts a tour that includes a visit to the north, where the children stay, and during the day tour several heritage sites and tombs of the righteous. During their travels and tours, they are exposed to basic Jewish values.
The Sabbath and the last three days of the tour are celebrated in Jerusalem. Shabbat in Jerusalem is one of the exhilarating experiences of the tour as the children. They also visit different heritage sites. During these days the Bar / Bat Mitzvah celebration is held.
As the ceremony approaches, the excited kids adorn formal dress and travel on a bus convoy to the Western Wall. The boys receive a Tallit and tefillin, while the girls receive a silver candlestick for Sabbath lighting at an impressive ceremony attended by the Chief Rabbis of Israel and a host of distinguished rabbis and figures. The counselors explain the affiliation between the bar/bat mitzvah ceremony and the place where the tefillin and candlesticks were distributed. The children then wrap the Tallit and tefillin and pray the morning prayers. During the prayer, the Torah is also recited for all the boys, and candies are thrown at the children who go up for an Aliya to the Torah. Then a festive breakfast is served and tour of the Western Wall tunnels and other Jewish sites are toured.
The main celebration is held that evening near the Western Wall, attended by rabbis and public figures who welcome the children. Festivities include a banquet, orchestra, dance, and an awards ceremony for the children who excelled in ‘The Book of Generations’. The ceremony is concluded by children’s representatives.