On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to share in a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party with the 12 year old girls and 13 year old boys at the Kadima Centre. The children prepared for several days for the Tekes (ceremony) part of the afternoon. The beginning of the afternoon was spent decorating the Kadima Centre, assembling chairs and setting up the AV equipment. When it was time to begin, the children, parents, staff, volunteers and special guests enjoyed a slide show honouring the B’nai Mitzvot. The honourees then spoke about what it means to become Bar/Bat Mitzvah and their experiences. We then heard from a Rabbi, who presented gifts to the B’nai Mitzvot. We finished the Tekes with speeches from the Deputy Mayor, and the founders of the Kadima Centre. After the ceremony, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the courtyard, served by the oldest children at Kadima.
The evening was bittersweet, as defined by a conversation we had with the founder of Kadima over dinner. She told us that she had originally opened a number of soup kitchens and noticed that many of her clients were children. As such, the idea of an after-school youth centre was born. In order to be elgible to attend Kadima, the children must be considered “at-risk” and come from the lowest socioeconomic bracket. Kadima is designed to feel like home for the children – a place where they get a hot meal (often, their only meal of the day) and interact with positive role models. Were they not to attend Kadima, many of the children would end up in foster homes. This conversation definitely gave us a new perspective on our work with the kids at Kadima.
Despite this sobering conversation, we all agreed that it was so special to be able to share in the celebration of the B’nai Mitzvot. For the majority of the new adults, this was the only celebration they would have to honour this new chapter in their lives. It was truly a privilege to be able to share in honouring our new friends.