UMJCA and bat mitzvah participants (Contributed photos)

United Mashadi Jewish Community Women Host Jamati Group Bat Mitzvah For Girls In Israel

The United Mashadi Jewish Community of America (UMJCA) women’s solidarity mission partnered with the organization OneFamily to host a special bat mitzvah party in Jerusalem for Israeli girls who have lost a parent or sibling on or since October 7th.
A bat mitzvah is a time of joy, and achieving that during wartime is not an easy feat, especially when the girl has lost a parent or sibling to terrorism and war. Yet, despite the heaviness of grief, 22 newly bereaved Israeli girls took part in a group bat mitzvah celebration together with the 20 mission participants from Great Neck, New York.

The party included the elements you would expect to see at a Bat Mitzvah; dancing, an elegant multi-course meal, a professional photographer portrait backdrop, makeup, an art activity, speeches and bat mitzvah gifts. Yet this party also included important guests, a combined experience, and words of comfort and inspiration for young women who are trying to live with unimaginable loss and suffering.

OneFamily CEO Chantal Belzberg put together the concept and schedule for the event. However, the UMJCA participants were particularly excited to jump on the opportunity to include it in their schedule, given its parallel to the traditional annual group bat mitzvah in Great Neck, known as ‘jamati’ in Farsi.

Nicole Ben Yehuda, a UMJCA representative, expressed, “We came here to bring joy, but it also brings us much joy. It is a privilege to be with [these special young women]. We hope to maintain a connection and celebrate with these young women again.”
Fellow Great Neck participant Jamie Kamall added, “At home, there is nothing we can do. We watch the news, and we’re angry. We came into a war, and Israelis uplifted us. This spirit is what we needed.”

Celebrating together

Each of the honored bat mitzvah girls carries a story of personal loss due to terrorism and war. Noa Fisch, for example, lost her brother Capt. Eitan Fisch from the Armored Corps who was killed in December in Gaza. Adele Ben Yiftach lost her father, Oren Ben Yiftach, in a terrorist attack on Israel’s Independence Day in 2022. Talia Rauchberger lost her brother Golani Captain Shilo Rauchberger, who was killed in battle near the Gaza border on October 7. She grew up hearing about OneFamily from her brother Shilo who had been an active volunteer counselor at OneFamily before joining the IDF.

Ms. Belzberg addressed the lingering question of how one finds the strength to celebrate during this challenging period, one she has dealt with professionally and personally for many years.

Belzberg emphasized the power of unity and tapping into the realization that we really are one family. As seen throughout this bat mitzvah celebration, the strong bonds between Israel and Diaspora Jews are the backbone of our collective well-being. Belzberg addressed the girls in Hebrew and then translated for the UMCJA guests into English, introducing both the young women impacted by terror and new friends from UMCJA to the work OneFamily does, and the way the organization views its role in helping the bereaved heal and thrive: “At OneFamily, you are allowed to hurt, to talk about the pain, to cry—everything is allowed. As in any family, we enjoy being with each other and are thankful for the special connection we have. In this family, we celebrate even when it is not easy to do so, and we always feel embraced and accepted.”

Special invited guests included the OneFamily regional coordinators who work with each of the young women and their families on an ongoing basis, Rabbi Benji Levi, co-founder of Israel Impact Partners and former CEO of Mosaic, and Israeli Knesset Minister Idit Silman, who has been an active supporter of OneFamily for years.

Rabbi Levi then gathered the girls and their guests and led them in the traditional Jewish blessing that parents give their daughters, full of emotion from the whole room.

Stephanie Aziz, a UMJCA participant summed up the experience for the visitors who enabled OneFamily to host the party: “To come to a nation that can pull this off beautifully, sensitively, and with the pure aim to make people happy in dark times—it’s incredible. Tonight was the highlight of our trip!”

About OneFamily
OneFamily is Israel’s largest organization supporting victims of terror and their families. OneFamily provides critical short and long-term emotional, financial, and rehabilitative assistance to those impacted by terrorism.

—Submitted by OneFamily

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