President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin held a Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration at the President’s residence for 50 victims of terrorist attacks.

Also participating in the event, were boys and girls who are bereaved siblings and children whose relatives were wounded in terrorist attacks. The event was attended by Chairman of The Terror Victims Association, Mr. Yehoshua Cohen; CEO of the National Insurance Institute, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef; and singer Moshe Peretz.

Among the children who celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s were three orphans: Yigal Paizkov, whose parents, Oleg and Ludmila, were killed in the terror attack on the Hilton hotel in Taba in October 2004. Yigal’s grandparents are raising him and his older brother Daniel (19); Michelle Levine, whose parents Eitan and Rima, were killed in a shooting attack near the Shoket intersection in February 2004. Michelle was their only daughter and was adopted by her aunt; Nadav Wolanski, whose parents, Abraham-Isaac (Avi) and Avital Yocheved, were killed in shooting attack in August 2002 on the Ramallah-Nablus road. Nadav has an older brother, Yigal (15), who was also injured in the attack.

The event marked the end of an exciting and celebratory day, which began at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“On this special day, during which you celebrate the acceptance of the commandments, I’m happy to have the privilege to take part in your joyous occasion,” President Rivlin remarked. “The Bar Mitzvah day is a day in which you turn from children into adults. To date it was not required of you to take on the responsibility of an adult, but from now on you are a part of the adult community, which requires of you both responsibility and commitment.”

“There is a price to our being Jewish, to our independence, sometimes, the price is too high and almost always, the price we pay is unbearable. An unbearable price that each one of you knows first-hand, but there is also a lot of power and strength which should be remembered,” he added.

“The people of Israel and the State of Israel will accompany you along your way and throughout your adult life. I am sure all of you will be a source of hope and pride to your loving families,” Rivlin said. “I am hopeful that this new chapter will open up a positive set of experiences and good memories and will bring good fortune to you and your families. Congratulations.”

12-year-old girl Orel Mamistalov, who was the youngest daughter of the late Joseph Mamistalov, the bus driver who was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv in 2002 gave am oving speech, in which  described growing up without a father. “The fact that my father is not with me physically is very difficult, but he is always in my heart,” she said. “My father’s absence is felt particularly at important stages in my life like the first day of first grade, the transition from kindergarten to elementary school and the transition from elementary school to high school, and the significant stage in my life at the moment, knowing that he is not here to celebrate with me my Bat Mitzvah.”

Yehoshua Cohen, Chairman of The Terror Victims Association remakred, “The Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony that the organization hosts has become a tradition for 12 years now, and there is one aspect that is particularly significant. Each and every one of these children paid a personal and heavy price during the years of their short life so far – the death or injury of a family member in a terrorist attack. I believe that in the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony we have the ultimate answer to all those terror organizations that aspire to kill us and destroy our lives in Israel – it symbolizes that they will never be able to do so.”