Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hosted a bar and bat mitzvah event on Thursday in Jerusalem for children injured or who have had family members injured in terrorist attacks, as he does every year.

Ahiya Emanuel Fisher, a bereaved brother who lost his sister Adva in a suicide attack, spoke of his loss.

“We are all kids who have grown up, but our growing up started long before we got to the age of bar mitzvah,” he said. “From the pictures and stories, I have got to know Adva, the light she brought to our home. I am sure she is proud of me from above,” he added.

Adva Fisher was murdered in 2003,at age 19, in a terrorist attack at the Geha junction. Two-and-a-half years later, her brother, Ahiya Emanuel, was born. At his bar mitzvah, Ahiya chose to donate all the gifts he received to people with special needs in her memory.

In addition to the celebration, the children got to hear from 2018 Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai.

Rivlin spoke to the young people and said, “Today, you mark the transition from childhood to adulthood, the age when young men and women form their own opinions, come of age in the eyes of religion and are expected to take responsibility for their actions. You have all, unfortunately, already experienced the loss of a father, mother, brother, sister or other relative. Some of you have been injured yourselves. Already as children, too soon, you were asked to grow up, and you did.

“I want to say that you became heroes. When I see you here—strong, bright and smiling—when I see your spirit, I feel that you are the ones who give me strength.”

He added, “On this emotional day, the people of Israel are with you. Everyone is looking out for you and wishing you success and happiness. Your desire to keep on going—to grow, develop and mature, despite the difficulties and the pain—strengthens us all. Our responsibility today is to show you our love, our pride and to do everything we can to give you everything necessary for you to continue to flourish and be the pride of the Israeli people. To ensure your safety and security—yours and all the children of Israel. May you continue to grow and flourish without fear.

“We believe in you and love you. Mazal tov, from me and from all of Israel.”

The Organization of Victims of Terror has held bar and bat mitzvah celebrations for the last 18 years.

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