Bars No Bar to Bar Mitzvah

Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, the Jewish chaplain at the Green Haven Correctional Facility here, reported he had recently performed a unique Bar Mitzvah, the most unusual in his rabbinical service. The ceremony was held Jan. 4 in a chapel surrounded by a 30-foot high concrete wall. Tony Romandette 36 years old, was the Bar Mitzvah “boy.” He is an inmate at the prison here, serving a sentence of 8-25 years for armed robbery.

Although born a Jew, Romandette has never practiced his religion. When he some to prison six-and-a-half years ago, he began attending Jewish services and soon became an avid student of Jewish teachings, Jaffe said. He reported that several months ago, Romandette asked him about the possibility of being Bar Mitzvahed to help symbolize his entry into Jewish life The Inmate, who is presently enrolled in the Hebrew classes at the prison, was given training in the blessings and the Haftorah portion to read for his Bar Mitzvah. Jaffe worked with him diligently each week.

After the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, members of the congregation joined with prison guards and civilian personnel to give a small party in Romondette’s honor. Jaffe commented that “this was the first Bar Mitzvah ever held in a prison and I am extremely gratified that I had the privilege of performing it. This day has given our Green Haven congregation a greater cohesiveness and has engendered much good feeling.

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