With each explosive argument and battle that Jared’s* parents fought, the young boy longed all the more for the torment to end. Yet their bitter divorce proceedings plunged him into an even worse nightmare. The Boys Town Jerusalem seventh grader could no longer bring himself to think about his upcoming Bar Mitzvah, which he’d looked forward to for so long.

Jared’s father came to my office several weeks ago to ask our help,” explained BTJ Principal of Jewish Studies Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov. “Beyond the hostile divorce proceedings, the man’s business had been badly hit by the pandemic and money was scarce. As Jared’s Bar Mitzvah neared, he was desperate for help. Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of BTJ supporters, we were able to quickly purchase tefillin and to arrange a beautiful weekday Bar Mitzvah at Boys Town for Jared and his class.

Jared’s mother did not attend the ceremony. As the boy faultlessly chanted his Torah reading, his father was at his side. Following the services, Jared’s entire seventh-grade class was treated to a breakfast prepared by the school, complete with candy and a cake brought by his proud father. BTJ Music director Nir Cohen provided music for the dancing that followed, as a delighted Jared was hoisted on his friends’ shoulders.

“You are a talented, mature young man with tremendous potential,” Rabbi Elimelech told his student. “You have the strength and the courage to succeed in your own life and to give to others. We have faith in you, and we’re here for you always!”

Afterwards, Jared and his classmates set off for a nearby bowling alley for the finale of his Bar Mitzvah celebration. His smile never left his face the entire day.

*not his real name

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