A gift to never forget

Grayson Belfer participates in a ceremony at Jewish National Fund's B'nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall in Jerusalem where he received a tile in honor of his bar mitzvah.

While it may be difficult for Jewish American teenagers to find ways to connect to children lost in the Holocaust, a project sponsored by the Jewish National Fund aims to create that link.

The B'nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall was originally developed as the bar mitzvah project of Max Levin of St. Louis, according to the JNF website, and was launched by JNF and the Levin family in 2006. The wall allows bar and bat mitzvah-age teens to connect to a child who perished in the Holocaust as their names are placed next to each other on a wall tile.

Erected in Jerusalem's American Independence Park, the wall is shaped like a Torah scroll with the glass tiles embedded in it. Each tile bears the name and hometown of the teen and the date of their bar or bat mitzvah, as well as the name and home country of the child they are matched with.

This past June, Grayson Belfer of Scottsdale celebrated his bar mitzvah in Israel with his family and had his name added to the wall.

His grandmother Sandy Belfer of Paradise Valley says her goal in giving her grandson a tile was to have him be remembered in Israel to honor those lost in the Holocaust. After observing his bar mitzvah on June 11 outside the Dan Caesarea Hotel, the family was picked up by a JNF tour guide and taken to see the Remembrance Wall, where a small ceremony was held.

"I think it's important that all those children that perished during the Holocaust are remembered," Belfer says."And I think this is great way of doing that so that their memory is not forgotten."

The $1,800 donation required for involvement in the project pays for the tile, a certificate mounted on a plaque for the teen and cultivation of JNF's five Israel campsites. The teen also receives information about the Holocaust.

"I think it has to be very meaningful to (the teens) and it gives more substance and meaning to their event, as opposed to what they're already getting in the way of a celebration or a party," says Ted Kort, JNF's Arizona regional director. "It's a very special situation for the kids involved."

To learn more about the B'nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall, visit jnf.org. Contact the local JNF office at 602-277-4800.

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