Friday, July 27, 2012

The Event

Mercaz Klita, Tsfat
The long and hot heat wave has been miserable and still hasn’t ended! A taxi picked me up at 4:00 and it was already 95 degrees out. We (myself, the Ethiopian families and other worker at the Ethiopian Absorption Center) got on the buses about 4:15am. There were two buses for us and the Bar and Bat Mitzvah children, their “house mom” - my translator) and the art teacher (my neighbor and coordinator of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah project in Tsfat) plus some madrichim (young assistants), and a few others. At least the 3 hour bus ride to Jerusalem let us be in good air conditioning! When we were about halfway, the buses made a stop for us and it was like walking out into a sauna.

We arrived at the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem and as we got off the buses, the children started singing to welcome us. It was really nice. We arrived before the buses with the United Kingdom families from their hotels. We all went into the sanctuary and Rav Micha Peled welcomed everyone and then they proceeded to take family photos – the twin families together.

This year was the largest group of Bar/Bat Mitzvah participants (twin families with the Tsfat Ethiopian families – Thirty-four newly-arrived Ethiopian immigrant children (seventeen boys and seventeen girls) from the Jewish Agency "Tzahal" Absorption Center in Tsfat with sixteen British Bar and Bat Mitzvah "Twins") from the United Kingdom so far to date. First the boys and their fathers put on their tallises and tefillin with the brachas. Afterwards the Rabbi/Cantor from England sang Eishet Chayil while the “twin” girls walked into the sanctuary together hand-in-hand.

It was a very nice event. The Ethiopian girls were all given a white siddur. This joint Bar/Bat Mitzvah was the actual Bar Mitzvah date for one of the boys from the United Kingdom, so he was called up to lead them in one of the blessings. The joint Bar and Bat Mitzvah was conducted in Hebrew, Amharic and English. Before this wonderful joint Bar/Bat Mitzvah event ended at the Great Synagogue, Rabbi Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv came and addressed the congregation and blessed the Bar/Bat Mitzvah children.

Leading up to this final event, their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program included four months of weekly classes at the Tzahal Absorption Centre in Tzfat, which focus on Jewish identity, the connection to the land of Israel and the transition from childhood to adulthood. The classes are supplemented by mentoring, a volunteering scheme, local trips and a structured Shabbat program. The children also studied at Livnot U'Lehibanot in Tsfat which prepared them for the practical aspects of Jewish life as well as a two month program for the girls and their mothers to learn embroidery and embroider a Bat Mitzvah project with me as their teacher and 4 week tefillin project for the boys with their fathers with Noah Greenberg.
Rav Kaplan, Rav Micha, Noah Greenberg, Rav Reich and the boys

After the actual Bar Mitzvah, we all received a bottle of water before getting on buses (6 in total) and went to the location for the rest of the festivities.  We did some dancing, okay, I did a lot of dancing. My body is a bit sore today, but it was a lot of fun. I was able to get a lot of the Ethiopian women to join in on our dancing.

There was one Bar Mitzvah boy and one Bat Mitzvah girl from both the UK and the Tsfat new immigrants who gave a speech. The Ethiopian girl gave her speech in Hebrew and the Ethiopian boy gave his in Amharic. They were all received very well. Sefton (UJIA Galil Programme Supervisor at UJIA and projectʼs head) was the master of ceremonies. He has been involved in arranging the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Twin program for the last 16 years. Sefton has been an invaluable asset in this wonderful project.

The Ethiopian Bar and Bat Mitzvahs sang a few songs for everyone. Then some of the girls did traditional Ethiopian dancing while some of the boys and girls played the drums. First some of the Ethiopian women joined in, then some UK Bat Mitzvah girls joined it. Some Ethiopian men and then some of the UK guests, as well as myself also joined in.
Girls doing their traditional dancing

Rav Micha spoke, addressing the Bar/Bat Mitzvah children and their families and Sefton was the master of ceremonies. The lunch was actually very tasty. There was a downside to this event, we unfortunately couldn’t really feel the air conditioning in the banquet hall or the synagogue. 

The "Event" was wonderful - Efat did a wonderful job planning it all - kol hakavod!

1 comment:

  1. !!! איזה יופי- מקסים
    תודה ששיתפת אותי מקווה שיהיו לך עוד פרויקטים מיוחדים עם שליחות שכזו בעתיד שתעדכני אותי
    ! כל טוב