See the emotional moment 50 Holocaust survivors finally got bar mitzvahed.

Solomon Moshe was only 4 years old when Hitler's armies invaded his home country of Greece.

He recalls spending his childhood fleeing from house to house with his mother — never having friends, never having a home, and constantly seeing the fear in his mother's eyes.

Before long, 60,000 Greek Jews would be murdered in World War II, nearly 80% of the country's Jewish population. Moshe moved to Israel in 1956 to try to start a new life.


On Monday, May 2, 2016, Moshe got to celebrate becoming a bar mitzvah, finally, at the ripe old age of 79.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images.

For Jewish people, the bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies are incredibly important.

Typically occurring around the age of 13, the ceremonies are holy events for friends, family, and communities that mark a coming of age in Jewish culture and a confirmation of faith. There's also usually a big party.

This week, 50 people, including Moshe, traveled to Israel to celebrate their bar and bat mitzvot. All of them are in their 70s and 80s.

All of them are Holocaust survivors.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images.

To be born in Europe in the 1930s meant being born into a world turned upside down. Adolf Hitler's Nazi party invaded or occupied over a dozen countries and systematically murdered an unfathomable number of people, including 6 million Jews.

Even those who survived the horror of the Holocaust had their lives taken from them in other ways — from childhoods tainted by memories of fear and despair to families permanently torn apart.

The survivors were invited to host their ceremonies at the Western Wall in Jerusalem — one of Judaism's holiest sites — by the Israeli government.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images.

They wrapped themselves in talits (Jewish prayer shawls) and affixed tefilin (small leather boxes containing sections of the Torah) strapped to their foreheads and arms.

They recited special prayers and read holy passages, all two days before Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As they left, Israeli soldiers gathered to pay their respects.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images.

"I am not embarrassed to say that I was moved to tears," recalls Moshe. "Soldiers were saluting us like we were heroes."

It's impossible to set right the wrongs of World War II.

Millions were killed, and those who survived still feel the effects of the war today. A coming-of-age ritual might seem like a small gesture, but it's a deeply significant one.

Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images.

During the war, being Jewish was a crime punishable by death. Millions of families had to hide and suppress their faith for fear of being persecuted and sent away.

For these survivors, being able to become a bar or bat mitzvah now isn't just a gesture of kindness or a ceremony of faith. It's an act of healing.

More

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Friends For Life Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization - Houston

Recidivism is a real problem for some shelter cats. Quilty, a seven-year-old domestic shorthair, was born in the Friends For Life Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization (FFL), a Houston-area animal shelter. Named after Claire Quilty in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," Quilty was recently returned to the shelter he was born in after his adopter moved and couldn't bring him along. He immediately started causing trouble.


Quilty knows how to open doors, and liberated the other captive cats in the shelter like some kind of feline Simon Bolivar. "Quilty loves to let cats out of the senior room. Repeatedly, several times a day," the shelter wrote on Facebook. "Quilty will not be contained. And he has no shame."

Quilty was caught and sentenced solitary confinement (i.e. left to sit behind a glass door) for the jail breaks, looking adorably sad yet showing no remorse.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Toni Hukkanen on Unsplash

Are looks more important than the ability to get through a long work day without ending up with eyes so dry and painful you wish you could pop them out of your face? Many employers in Japan don't permit their female employees to wear glasses while at work. Big shocker, male employees are totally allowed to sport a pair of frames. The logic behind it (if you can call it that) is that women come off as "cold" and "unfeminine" and – horror of all horrors – "too intelligent."

Women are given excuses as to why they can't wear glasses to work. Airline workers are told it's a safety thing. Beauty industry workers are told they need to see makeup clearly. But men apparently don't have the same safety issues as women, because they're allowed to wear their glasses square on the face. Hospitality staff, waitresses, receptionists at department stores, and nurses at beauty clinics are some of the women who are told to pop in contacts while they're on the clock.

Keep Reading Show less
popular