How Ahmed the Palestinian Had a Bar Mitzvah

When Rabbi Beryl Frankel took his son to get a tooth extracted, the last thing he thought he would do that day was make a Bar Mitzvah for a man who said he was Palestinian…

By reporter

The pintele Yid is always there, sometimes, it just needs to be uncovered…

On Tuesday, Rabbi Beryl Frankel, Director of CYP – Chabad Young Professionals International Network, took his son Tani for a tooth extraction at the Touro University Dental School. One of the students there, who was working under the main dental surgeon, greeted them, and introduced himself as Ahmed, a Palestinian.

Rabbi Frankel was slightly taken aback by this revelation. Not one to back down from a tricky topic, Rabbi Frankel continued the discussion, asking friendly questions.

“Can I ask you something, Ahmed?” He asked. “Do you feel hostility here, as you are working in a Jewish hospital, now with the current tensions between Israel and Gaza?”

“Well actually,” Ahmed said “my mom is Jewish.”

Now that’s an unexpected plot twist.

Ahmed explained that his father is a Palestinian who emigrated to America and later met a Russian Jewish woman and married her- his mother.

Of course, Rabbi Frankel’s next question was “Did you ever do anything Jewish?”

The dentist said he hadn’t, explaining that he was raised without any religion, neither Islamic, nor Jewish. They has actually celebrated Xmas in their home when he was a child.

“Did you ever have a Bar Mitzvah?” Rabbi Frankel pushed.

Nope, nothing Jewish, was the answer.

With that, they turned back to the procedure, and the young Frankel’s tooth was extracted.

As the Frankels were thanking the doctors and heading out, Rabbi Frankel turned to Ahmed regretfully.

“You know, Ahmed, the one thing I regret is that I don’t have my tefillin here with me today.”

At that precise moment, a Touro student with a yarmulke and the name “Ari” on his nametag passed by.

“Ari,” Rabbi Frankel called out, “do you have a pair of tefillin here?”

“I do,” answered Ari, “come with me to the staff lounge and I’ll give them to you.”

Rabbi Frankel explained that Ahmed wanted to put on tefillin.

“Ahmed? Ahmed is Jewish?” The others in the office were slightly surprised, to say the least.

Rabbi Frankel helped Ahmed don tefillin and said Shema with him, explaining each step of the way as they went. Other Jewish staff stopped by to wish Mazal Tov and see the sight for themselves.

And that’s how Ahmed, who just minutes before had known himself only as a Palestinian, came to have a Bar Mitzvah…


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