A Bar Mitzvah Filled with Meaning and Memory

Monday, 27 October, 2014 - 3:10 pm


Staff Sgt. Oz Mendelovich was 21 years old when he died in Gaza during this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge. He had joined the Israel Defense Forces in 2012, bravely following in the footsteps of his courageous father by serving in the famed but high-risk Golani Brigade. 

During the shiva for Oz, a delegation from  Chabad’s Terror Victims Project (CTVP.ORG) visited with his family. They were distraught and filled with pain and anguish at the loss of their son and told us that they were going to cancel a planned Bar Mitzvah for their younger son, Roee. 

With great compassion we told them we understood. And we said that CTVP would completely organize the whole Bar Mitzvah for just them and their family. 

They agreed and today, Monday, October 27, the family came to the Kotel to celebrate this very important and significant moment in Roee’s life. 

The ceremony was beautiful and very moving. There was singing and dancing and despite the pain of their loss which is still acute, the family was able to experience great joy.  

Rabbi Menachem Kutner, CTVP Director, made an emotional speech that included a special prayer for Oz and for all the other IDF soldiers who are still recovering in hospitals and rehabilitation centers throughout Israel. There wasn’t a dry eye as the emotions of joy and remembrance joined together. 

After the ceremony we took the family to a restaurant for a quiet and joyful continuation of the celebration. 

Osnat, the mother of Oz and Roee, told us over and over again how deeply grateful she and the whole family were for this very special day. She expressed such gratitude that all of us at CTVP have not forgotten her family but have been a strong support for them. She said this has helped them so much through this terribly difficult time. 

We were joined in the celebration by Rabbi Menashe Perman of Santiago, Chile who was at the Kotel with a lone soldier (a soldier without family in Israel) from Santiago. They added another dimension of celebration and meaning to the Bar Mitzvah. 

Rabbi Yosef Aronov, the Chairman of Chabad of Israel, expressed how vital and important it is that families like the Mendelovichs, who have lost precious loved ones in the defense of Israel, should never be forgotten. Everything possible must be done to help them financially, emotionally, spiritually and practically. They surely deserve our help and support as they struggle to regain their lives. 

A special thanks to Shahala Farivar who raised money from family & friends and helped make this day a reallity.  





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