When Boys Town Jerusalem seventh grader Yosef and his family – including his grandparents – immigrated to Israel from South America, they were fleeing the dangerous, growing antisemitism that prevailed. When they reached Israel’s shores, says Yosef’s mother Devorah, they knew that a nearly-impossible dream had come true. Today, they saw another nearly-impossible dream fulfilled as Yosef marked his Bar Mitzvah in a festive celebration made for him by Boys Town Jerusalem. “Without this help, we simply could not have made a Bar Mitzvah for our son,” said Devorah. “I can’t ever thank you enough!”

“Yosef’s mother was quite apologetic when she first phoned me,” recalls Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz. “It was the beginning of September, and Yosef had only been a BTJ student for several days. ‘We’re new immigrants,” she told me. ‘We have no idea how to make a Bar Mitzvah for our oldest son. Can you help?’ she pleaded. As we spoke, I learned that the family was struggling to make ends meet, Yosef’s father’s job has been terminated, and that they have no relatives in Israel. I assured Yosef’s mother that – at no cost to them – the Boys Town family was here to make him a wonderful Bar Mitzvah at the school that Yosef and his classmates will always remember.”

Rabbi Rosencrantz explained that generous worldwide donors to BTJ’s Bar Mitzvah Fund enable the school to host five Bar Mitzvahs for needy students yearly. These Bar Mitzvah ceremonies begin with the student reading the Torah at (weekday) services in the school’s synagogue, followed by a festive homemade breakfast for the entire class and go-carting at a nearby amusement area.

The youngest donor to Yosef’s Bar Mitzvah was 13-year-old Judah Ehrenhaus of West Hempstead, NY. To share his own Bar Mitzvah celebration with less fortunate boys, Judah contributed tefillin (phylacteries) to six BTJ students, including Yosef. Judah’s choice to donate to Boys Town Jerusalem came in the footsteps of three generations before him: his great-grandparents Joan and Jerome Jakubovitz, his grandparents, parents and the entire family who have generously enriched the school for decades.

Amazingly enough, less than a month after his mother phoned Rabbi Rosencrantz, Yosef’s Bar Mitzvah was organized to the last detail. With his classmates, teachers, and family surrounding him in the Boys Town Jerusalem synagogue, the youngster confidently chanted his Torah portion and blessings. At the breakfast that followed for the entire seventh grade, BTJ Director of Jewish Studies Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov told the students, “When I asked Yosef what he prays for, he answered ‘to study the Torah, follow its ways, and be a mentch.’ I’m certain that Yosef, like all of you, will grow to take a leadership role in contributing to Israel and the Jewish world.”

Through their smiles and tears, Yosef’s parents and grandparents could not have been more proud or grateful.

To sponsor a future Bar Mitzvah or support Yosef’s ongoing tuition
please contact Boys Town Jerusalem at
800-469-2697 / btjnational@boystownjerusalem.org

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