Ukrainian orphans celebrate their bar mitzvah at the Western Wall
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Ukrainian orphans celebrate their bar mitzvah at the Western Wall

The four boys were part of a larger cohort who fled the city of Zhytomyr last month

Four orphans from the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr were taken to the Western Wall with live music and dancing on Monday to celebrate their bar mitvah.

The boys were accompanied by Chabad to the plaza in Jerusalem after the coming-of-age ceremony, which is usually held at the age of 13.

They prayed alongside their Israeli peers at the ancient wall and placed prayer notes into its cracks.

The site is Judaism’s holiest site.

“I feel great here,” said Tima Kobakov, 13, who is from an orphanage in the northwestern Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr.

“There are a lot of Jewish people, Jewish community, they are so helpful. I’m excited.

“I can’t express my feelings just with words because this is a huge celebration and I love this.”

Chabad organised the bar mitzvah for orphans the organisation cares for.

The Ukrainian boys are part of a larger group whose ages range between 2 to 12.

They arrived in Israel on March 3 from war-torn Ukraine after a journey through Romania.

The KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) has been taking care of their hosting and wellbeing in Israel.

Rabbi Shlomo Duchman, director of Coll Chabad, said it was “beyond special” to be part of the event.

He said: “Right now with the Ukrainian crisis, with the Ukrainian refugees, many of us who are parents of grandparents or are refugees themselves, when we hear the word ‘refugees’ we wake up, we jump up.

“To be able to welcome refugees and to be part of them and to lead them into your events and to your curriculum, that’s something that is truly beyond.”

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