Trips, excursions and entertainment filled an action-packed week for 130 young people from Eastern Europe and Russia, including Siberia. The trip originated and transpired by The “Morasha” division of RCE. The highlight of the tour was on Thursday, as they celebrated a Bar /Bat Mitzva ceremony at the Kotel. Every boy received his own set of tefilin and the girls were given Shabbos candlesticks.
As the group approached the Kotel, musicians from ‘The Western Wall Heritage Foundation’ welcomed them with song and drums. Chupas were arranged above the Bar Mitzva boy’s heads, accompanying them all the way to the plaza in front of the Kotel, departing as they blew the Shofar.
The Girls went up to the Kotel to daven, escorted by their esteemed Rebbetzins, as the boys went to the men’s side. The entrepreneur Rami Levi presented them an incredible gift: Talis, Tefilin and a siddur. The Rabbis and counselors joining the trip assisted the boys with putting on their Tefilin and they all davened together. After Reading the Tora, Taleisim were perched over the boy’s heads and Cohanim that were present blessed them.
The magnificent event was aided by Hagaon Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel and sponsored by ‘The Western Wall Heritage Foundation’ chairman Soli Eliav and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin who invested much time and effort to make the event a success.
The Morasha staff, a division of RCE, facilitates events within vast Jewish communities, prioritizing small populated cities in Europe. The staff introduces Jewish identity to the youth that has no exposure to Judaism due to the fact that they don’t live in a Jewish environment, as opposed to other Jews that see and breathe Shabbos and Holidays.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah expedition to Israel is the flagship. It incorporates a Jewish education program for 3 months, concluding with a week in Israel. The journey was implemented by “Morasha”, a division of RCE. Rabbi Yosef Bainhaker is the Deputy Director General of RCE and head of this division. As all the participants will testify, He orchestrated a flawless trip par excellence. Donors participated in funding the trip include “Meromim’ fund led by Chairman Rabbi Ben Tzion Lipsker, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin, The Ministry of Religious Services, HaShomer HaChadash organization, “Israel’s Office for Public Relations “headed by Yossi Rosenbaum ,Entrepreneur Rami Levi and Philanthropist R’ Motti Zonenfeld, Chairman of the ‘Danieli Fund’ who actively assists all year round . Special thanks go to Rabbi Eliyahu Edelkopf, Director of the Foundation for the Development of European Jewry, for all his assistance.
Celebrating the 11th year of this unique program, RCE can pride itself with exclusivity of its kind in Europe. The Group visited The Holy sites throughout Israel, giving them a unique opportunity to deepen their ties with Jewish tradition and life in Israel. The youths were accompanied by the rabbis and rebbetzins from their respective communities, and each group was given a guide who spoke its native language.
In addition to the tours and activities, the trip included many educational and social activities as well, for some of which the children were divided into smaller groups and for some everyone participated together. The entire program was planned with an emphasis on experiences that would leave impressions on the youths that would remain with them.
The RCE’s director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, remarked at the conclusion of the trip, “We are thrilled to see a significant group of Jewish youth take pride in glorifying their entry into the world of Tora and mitzvah observance. On this we congratulate ourselves.”
Deputy Director Rabbi Arie Goldberg commented, “It’s so impressive to see afresh, year after year, the positive energy emerging from all the Bat- Mitzva Girls and Bar Mitzva boys as they approach the Kotel. The experience will be engraved in their heart forever. We are proud to be part of that.”
Deputy Director General of RCE and head of the Morasha division Rabbi Yosef Bainhaker stated: “This is the 11th year of the tour and Baruch Hashem we clearly see the increase of participants yearning to join the trip. The journey is a complex production tailored every hour for the Bat/Bar Mitzvah children. A week is a short period of time but still we manage to expose them to the beauty of Judaism exploring many Jewish sites. They return home full of Jewish pride. It is a great Zchus for us.”