Last week AMIT Hammer Rehovot Jr. & Sr. High School for Boys held a Bar Mitzvah ceremony for boys with autism from the local Lotem Special Education School. The boys, adorned with tefillin and wrapped in prayer shawls, went up to the Torah at the AMIT Rehovot synagogue. AMIT students accompanied them with singing and dancing, and parents cried tears of joy at their sides.
The Bar Mitzvah this year was the third of its kind. Since the start of this collaboration between AMIT Hammer and Lotem, each year ninth grade AMIT students, with guidance from their teachers, have prepared the Lotem students for their big day and taught them to put on tefillin and say the blessings for an aliyah to the Torah.
The AMIT students were devoted and committed to the entire process, and were just as excited as the Bar Mitzvah boys at the ceremony marking the culmination of their initiative. “It was an experience I had not had before,” said ninth grader Ben Zion Cohen, “and I came to truly understand what acceptance of others means, that we are all equal and there is no difference between us.”
The moving event was attended by Rehovot Mayor Rahamim Malul and Deputy Mayor Zohar Bloom, who both praised the AMIT students and administration for taking part in this unique educational project. Rabbi Rafi Maimon, principal of AMIT Hammer, thanked the AMIT and Lotem faculties for their cooperation and teamwork throughout the project. “All the children of Israel are entitled to go up to the Torah and accept observance of the commandments,” said Rabbi Maimon. “We tried to do everything possible to make sure that this special Bar Mitzvah day would be a joyful one for the boys and their parents.”