A few months ago, 7th grader Ori* asked our Junior High Principal, Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz, if he could have his bar mitzvah in school. “No one will come, except maybe my aunt,” he told the rabbi.

Being on his own is not new for Ori

When he was just a toddler, Ori’s mother left him and his two younger brothers with their violent and alcoholic father. Ori’s father is unemployed and tends to take it out on Ori and his siblings, especially his youngest brother who is disabled. On more than one occasion, Ori has been thrown out of the house.

Ori built his own home

When Ori joined our school this year, he found a connection to Judaism he didn’t have before. He started eating kosher food and keeping Shabbat, despite that he didn’t grow up religious.

Although his father despises Judaism and mocks him for it, Ori decided that he wanted to have a bar mitzvah.

He knew that neither of his parents would show up, but that didn’t stop him.

Ori found a family at BTJ

Rabbi Rosencrantz and the rest of Ori’s teachers quickly went about preparing for the bar mitzvah. From finding donors to sponsor the event to teaching Ori how to read his own Torah portion.

On the day of his bar mitzvah, only Ori’s aunt and one of his brothers attended the ceremony, but the rest of the synagogue was filled with Ori’s friends and teachers from school. Ori might not have had his parents at his bar mitzvah, but he definitely had his BTJ family there to support him.

As everyone celebrated, Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov noted that “Ori teaches us all that anyone can find the strength to forge the path he decides to take. Ori will go far in life. He will muster all the good that lies within him and transform it into something powerful.”

Although Ori was able to have his bar mitzvah, he still needs financial help for school. Click on the button below to donate. 

*Name changed to conceal identity


  1. oprolevorter says:

    Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beth Gopman says:

    How do i volunteer at this site?

  3. Yehudis Fishman says:

    HI. very moved by Ori’s story. I have been making modest contributions to BTJ for several years. I am 75 and live alone and don’t have any physical children (though I have taught in Jewish schools for many years) and wondered if I did help out boys like Ori, whose family is not very supportive, if one of them could be like a pen pal who I could connect with and whose progress I could follow. I once had a girl like that from India and it was very gratifying. Thank you, Yehudis Fishman, Boulder Co.

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