Jerusalem, Israel - Oct. 12 2015 -  Hundreds converged on Jerusalem today to celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs of 45 orphans who lost parents in the IDF. However, the annual IDF Widows and Orphans Organization (IDFWO) Bar Mitzvah celebration was forced to hold their event behind closed doors far away from the Western Wall, where it is usually held. 

The IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz together with Nava Shoham-Solan, Chairperson of IDFWO, gave each Bar Mitzvah boy his first set of Tefillin, while Bat Mitzvah girls received ornate Shabbat candlesticks and a set of Jewish books. In addition, boys and girls from the Druze and Bedouin community received gifts and celebrated their coming of age together with the other IDF orphans. Army chaplains were on hand to teach the children how to put-on their new Tefillin and be called up to the Torah.

The religious ceremony was followed by a large celebration at the Jerusalem Theater attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalom and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eiskenot and the heads of the Israeli police and prison service. Despite the ongoing wave of terrorism across the country, the dignitaries all came, spoke and celebrated together with the new adults as one extended family.

Nava Shoham-Solan told the crowd how proud she was as “one who lost her own husband and raised two-young children alone, to see the IDF orphans grow stronger by the day and grow into upstanding citizens of the State of Israel.”  

The IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot assured attendees: “As mindless terror sweeps through the country, the Israeli Defense Forces is doing its utmost to ensure that no other children become orphans and that peace and security are restored”.

Adding to the special family spirit President Reuven Rivlin told the children: “I consider each and everyone of you as my own grandchild and I wish you only the best in life. You have been through so much at such a young age, but you have prevailed and I am personally very proud of you all.”

Speaking about the decision to move the main event from the Western Wall Yuval Lipkin, CEO of IDFWO said: “Despite the ongoing wave of terror, we did everything in our power to ensure that the event was held in Jerusalem, while taking the highest precautions to ensure the safety of those celebrating.”

The young celebrants happily rose as "Golden Boy" Nadav Guedj, Israel's Eurovision song winner performed near the end of the presentations at the end of a memorable day. All gathered on stage to sing Hatikvah, before families boarded buses to take them home, to all parts of the country.

IDF Widows and Orphans Organization is the sole non-profit organization recognized by the State of Israel that represents and supports the widows and orphans of Israel’s fallen soldiers. The organization provides social, emotional and financial support to widows and orphans who have suffered the greatest loss: that of a husband and/or father. From the moment that the family is informed of the tragic news, until the child graduates university, the IDFWO is on hand to support and help those left behind.