(Courtesy of Chabad) Thirteen-year-old Joshua, a resident at the Children’s Village juvenile facility in Dobbs Ferry, New York, celebrated his bar mitzvah with the help of a group of retirees. Residing in a juvenile justice facility, Joshua, whose full name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, has faced countless hardships most people never will encounter. Living a trying life completely isolated from family and friends, he never imagined having any celebration in his honor, let alone a bar mitzvah.
Amidst preparations for a weekly Torah discussion group for retirees held at the Highpoint Condos in Hartsdale, New York, Rabbi Benjy Silverman of Chabad of the Rivertowns received a call from Joshua’s grandmother, Sandra. She enlisted his help in arranging a bar mitzvah for her grandson and, gladly agreeing, Rabbi Silverman eagerly began preparations. Later that day at the discussion group, known as “The Shmooze,” he passingly mentioned Joshua’s difficult situation and plans of his upcoming bar mitzvah to some of the attendees. Stepping up, the class of some 30 seniors, none of whom had ever met Joshua or his family, offered to sponsor his bar mitzvah and help turn a dream into a reality.
On Thursday, June 7, Joshua, joined by “The Shmooze” discussion group as well as students his age from a local Jewish day school, was privileged to don tefillin—a sacred pair of black leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls—and was called up to the Torah at his very own bar mitzvah celebration held at Chabad of the Rivertowns.