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63 Sons of War Dead Take Part in Mass Bar Mitzvah Ceremony

A group of 63 boys who lost their fathers in Israeli wars took part in a mass Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the Habad village near here. Some 5000 guests, headed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur, joined in the celebration which was also attended by all the students who were injured at the recent Maalot incident. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who came specially to greet the Bar Mitzvah boys, presented each boy with a medallion. He said that their fathers gave their lives for one goal, the establishment of a peaceful future for Israel.

The Premier said to the boys, “You are part of the new history of Israel. You will also have to learn the art of war but it is my true wish that you never make use of it.” He told the audience that while in the United States as ambassador, he met with the Lubavitcher Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, who told him that, according to Jewish tradition, the nation of Israel was chosen and is a nation that lives alone. It is for that reason, said Premier Rabin, that Israel fights her wars alone and will continue to do so until she has constructed a Jewish State based on Jewish values, peace and security. The widow of Col. Shlomo Alton, killed in the Six-Day War. spoke on behalf of the widows present, while Shalom Avner replied on behalf of the Bar Mitzvah boys. There were 18 Yom Kippur War orphans among the Bar Mitzvah boys. The ceremony lasted into the night as Habad youngsters sang and danced and took the Bar Mitzvah boys on their shoulders.

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