Swiss Youth in Jaffa

Friday, 9 August, 2013 - 12:35 pm

This past Monday morning, in the old city of Jaffa-Tel Aviv, I was amazed and emotionally touched to see two young men from Zug standing amongst the ancient houses, holding a siddur (prayer book).

It was just  a few minutes before the start of the Bar Mitzva ceremony of one of these boys. His name is Rapahel. Like any other Bar Mitzvah boy, he was using the last couple of minutes to go over and review the reading of his Torah portion. From my experience, it is usually helpful if the Rabbi is around in order to encourage the boy and help him do one last repetition before the big moment.

And so, I approached him in order to help, but then I saw that he was standing together with another boy, called Ydan, also from Zug, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah a few short months ago.

Then I realize, that Ydan is actually helping Raphael from his own fresh experience, and from where I was standing I could hear that he was guiding him in a pretty professional way. I was very inspired.

Why did it touch me so much? Besides for the fact that it was a cute and unusual scene to watch, I was touched because I know where these young men come from. They come from a very small community. Hebrew is not their first language and they also don’t visit the synagogue on a weekly basis.

Despite all this, I was able to tell how much their parents have invested in them, and the strong Jewish education which they received although they live in the Diaspora.

It was not surprising that Raphael did a great job reading from the Torah. With a hint of a Swiss accent, but in a pure, fluent and beautiful Hebrew.

I returned back home with great motivation to continue and to further develop the Jewish Youth Program in our community.

And here, of course, is the picture:

Raphael (on the right) gets encouragement and guidance from Ydan, moments before the ceremony.

Raphael and Idan 

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