Today is the Bar Mitzvah celebration of a young man whose name means Light - a youngster who has walked through the valley of the shadow of death and emerged with the help of Hadassah.
The Bar Mitzvah boy is wearing a crisp white shirt, pistachio-colored trousers, and a blue and white kippa with a Star of David clipped to his head. Chairs are set in the archaeological plaza in the Old City. Large stones from the Herodian Temple surround the guests. One stone contains the inscription, L'Beit Tekia, "to the House of the Shofar Blowing." Many shofar blasts will be blown today in celebration of the Bar Mitzvah of Naor Shalev Ben-Ezra.
This coming of age ceremony is for a boy who on October 13 was thought to be dead after he was attacked in Pisgat Zeev. When he arrived at Hadassah Mount Scopus, his pulse had fallen to 20; the staff couldn't get a blood pressure reading. Relatives were already receiving condolence text messages on their phones. Then a miracle happened, the heroic doctors and nurses were able to bring him back to life.
On that fall day in October, Naor had gone with his little brother Orlev to visit their ailing grandmother. Naor was riding his bike when two teenage Palestinian terrorists, cousins aged 15 and 13, had walked down the hill from nearby Beit Hanina carrying knives. They came with the intent to slaughter Jews. First they attacked a 21-year-old man, and injured him gravely. Next they spotted Naor and Orlev near a toy store. They began to stab Naor multiple times while Orlev watched in horror.
Everyone at the Bar Mitzvah knows the story, but no one mentions the horrific event. Naor's grandmother is also here, among the many family members and friends invited. Only this week did the family tell her about what had happened to her grandson when he came to visit. Before that, she was told he'd had a "bike accident."
Naor's mother Ruthi and his Dad Shai say today is only about joy. Naor and his brother Orlev are so happy. Everyone moves toward the Kotel plaza. The drums play and the shofar is blown, singing accompanies every step. Everyone stops as blue and white helium balloons are released into the sky. Raindrops begin to dampen the tallit held above Naor's head like a huppah. Then the crowd moves through the security checks to the underground tunnels where the morning prayer ceremony will take place.
Naor is holding the Torah. He starts to wrap the tefillin straps around his head and arm. Then comes the blessings: "You have chosen us from the peoples of the world and given us the Torah." Naor is reading from the Torah portion about Joseph and Judah. His cousin Etti, a midwife at Hadassah, puts her arm around me,” recalls Barbara Sofer, Israel Director of Public Relations for Hadassah.
When it was her turn at the mike, Mrs. Sofer notes, “I assured the crowd that this isn’t just a family celebration—that the Hadassah family around the world is celebrating today. “
Mrs. Sofer adds: “L'chayim to each and everyone of you who contributed time and funds to Hadassah. You made this dream come true.”