Heartwarming Bar Mitzvah Was a Milestone of Jewish Resilience

An extraordinary Bar Mitzvah celebration at the Mishpacha Children’s Home in Odessa, Ukraine for a boy from Almaty, Kazakhstan, who joined the home seven years ago, was a powerful reminder of the resilience and enduring spirit of the Jewish community.

An extraordinary Bar Mitzvah celebration took place at the Mishpacha Children’s Home in Odessa, Ukraine. Despite the challenging circumstances in the region, the community came together to celebrate a significant milestone for Levi Portman, who joined the Mishpacha family seven years ago from Almaty, Kazakhstan. The event was a powerful reminder of the resilience and enduring spirit of the Jewish community.

About a hundred people gathered at the Chabad House to mark the occasion. Every aspect of the celebration, led by Rabbi Mendy Wolff, was meticulously planned. Personalized decorations, including stickers with Levi’s picture, added a special touch to the evening.  Guests also had a chance to showcase their knowledge of Levi through a fun and unique game.

The event also included the reading of a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe and listening to Levi tell over the traditional Bar Mitzvah discourse of Issa B’Midrash Tehillim.

A Journey of Love and Support

Elchanan and Leah Cohen, locals from Levi’s hometown, embarked on an 18-hour journey from Almaty to Odessa to be part of this special occasion. Their trip included two flights and several hours by car, demonstrating their deep commitment to supporting Levi and celebrating with the Mishpacha family.

Reflecting on their experience, Elchanan shared, “Together with my wife, we left Almaty for a long journey: to celebrate with a local of our community, who has been in Mishpacha Children’s Home in Odessa for seven years. Despite the 18-hour journey, the warm welcome we received from Mishpacha Orphanage’s founders, Rabbi Avraham and Rebbetzin Chaya Wolff, made it all worthwhile.”

Elchanan goes on to share that was both impressed and inspired by what he witnessed.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes! We saw a great thirst of the local Jews, their participation in the morning prayer and then the exciting part at the end; the bar mitzvah boy sitting in the front row of the synagogue and repeating the Bar Mitzvah portion eloquently and clearly.”

“The Bar Mitzvah celebration was meticulously planned, filled with joy and community spirit,” he continued. “We were deeply moved by the dedication and care shown to each child at Mishpacha.”

“I always knew, and now I am even more inspired to see how our family at Mishpacha Childrens’ Home literally saves childrens’ lives, both physically and spiritually,” shared Rabbi Avraham Wolff.

A Celebration of Strength

The celebration took place against the backdrop of ongoing challenges in Odessa. Despite a power outage that began at 10:00 PM and lasted until 6:00 AM, the event continued smoothly, demonstrating the community’s resilience and determination. This Bar Mitzvah was not just a celebration of Levi’s milestone but also a testament to the strength and spirit of the Jewish community in Odessa.

“We arrived strong and came out strengthened!” affirmed Elchanan Cohen.

Reflecting on the profound impact of the Mishpacha Children’s Home, Rabbi Avraham Wolff concluded with heartfelt pride: “I first saw Levi when he arrived 7 years ago, small, weak and lonely. Without anyone. Today he is surrounded by 123 brothers and sisters, and a whole team who love him and are happy in his happiness. My heart is filled with joy and pride to be part of such an important and life-saving institution.”

Mazal tov to Levi and to the entire Mishpacha family on this tremendous celebration!

Mishpacha Children’s Home in Odessa, Ukraine, provides a nurturing and supportive environment for vulnerable, abandoned and orphaned Jewish children. Established by Rabbi Avraham and Rebbetzin Chaya Wolff, the orphanage offers a comprehensive range of services, including education and emotional support, ensuring that every child can thrive and grow within a caring community. You can learn more about their transformative work at MishpachaOrphanage.com.

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