On Sunday 13 December 2015, Jewish Care Victoria hosted a special Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony for approximately 75 of its aged care residents who hadn’t yet celebrated this milestone.
Over 300 people attended the ceremony at Gary Smorgon House, Caulfield, where residents’ family and friends; fellow residents and the Jewish Care community watched their loved ones take part in this emotional and inspiring occasion. Held on the seventh day of Chanukah, the festivities included a synagogue service, singing, dancing and a brunch.
Believed to be the first ceremony of its kind in Australia, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration was held because many of Jewish Care’s residents missed out on this significant life event due to reasons such as living through times of war and communist rule.
The ages of those participating were 80’s and 90’s with the oldest resident at 99 years old.
92-year-old Bat Mitzvah participant and Gary Smorgon House resident, Adel Justin addressed the crowd about her tumultuous childhood in Europe, where her family had to escape Poland during World War II.
She explained how the Rabbi invited her two weeks ago to participate in the ceremony. She replied: “Rabbi, I’m in it, it’s a good idea, but you know you’re taking me back 80 years, it will be a long journey – a journey of memories, and very emotional.”