Dozens of Jewish children from all over Europe were hosted in the Knesset last night as part of their special bar mitzvah journey to Israel. This is the eighth year that this trip was organized, with the initiative of the Morasha Organization and with the participation of the RCE and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

The Morasha Organization functions within Jewish communities, and specifically in the smaller communities in both eastern and western Europe, organizing activities throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, to bolster Jewish identity.

Morasha’s flagship project is its sponsorship of a trip for boys and girls of bar/bat mitzvah age to Israel. This is an exciting seven-day experience with a special Jewish emphasis, taking the children all over Eretz Yisrael accompanied by chaperones and led by Rabbi Mendy Pevzner of Brussels. While in Israel the children visit a great number of historical and holy sites. The highlight of the trip is a bar- and bat mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall.

Children who do not live in a Jewish environment don’t have the opportunity to feel or experience what Jewish daily life is, and especially the spirit of Shabbos. Their bar/bat mitzvah tour of Eretz Yisrael instills in their hearts a connection with Torah, Eretz Yisrael and Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

Part of this year’s itinerary was the visit by a delegation from among the children to the Knesset, where they met with two members of the Knesset: Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. The group’s conversations with the Speaker of the Knesset and the Minister of Health took place in the office of the Knesset Speaker. The children were accompanied by Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the RCE; Rabbi Avraham Abba Turetsky of the RCE; and Rabbi Shneur Trebnik, Chabad shaliach in Ulm, Germany.

The host, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, spoke to the children in Russian, describing his life as a Prisoner of Zion in Russia, which resulted from his struggle, many years ago, to maintain his Jewish identity and to live his life based on Torah, and of his desire to live in Eretz Yisrael. “Be proud and happy,” he told the children, “that today people are free to live their lives as true Jews, and also to come to Eretz Yisrael.”

Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman told the children about his early years as a child of Holocaust survivors, born in a refugee camp in Germany after the Holocaust. He spoke to them about how important it is for every one of them to hold fast to their Jewish identity, and he gave each of them a sefer Tehillim as a gift from himself and from the Speaker of the Knesset.

Before distributing the sifrei Tehillim, Minister Litzman showed the children his own sefer Tehillim and that of the speaker of the Knesset, explaining that although he has very little free time, he spends that time reciting chapters of Tehillim.

After they left the office of the Speaker of the Knesset, the children were given a tour of the Knesset, during which they were greeted by Deputy Minister of Finance Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen of the Shas party and former Chairman of the Knesset’s Financial Committee Rabbi Moshe Gafni of the Degel Hatorah party.