Bar Mitzvah for children with autism in Israel causing feud between mayor and school officials

Oscr_Rex_-_Bar_MitzwaRehovot, Israel — Earlier in May we reported about a looming feud between Rehovot’s mayor and Masorti leaders who run a local school for special needs children.Israeli mayor stops Bar Mitzvah ceremony for children with autism

The conflict stemmed from a Bar Mitzvah which the school officials supposedly planned for its special needs students. The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at a Conservative synagogue, which angered one of the students’ Orthodox parents, who seemed to have took the matter up to the city mayor— who, in turn, indirectly ordered a stop to the planned ceremony.

Both the Masorti leaders and the city mayor later on tried to reach a compromise, which involved a proposal wherein both Orthodox and non-Orthodox rabbis were to be present in a bar mitzvah ceremony which was supposed to be held at an Orthodox synagogue.

It now appears that the two parties were unable to reach a compromise. Someone decided to go ahead and push through with the ceremony for the special needs children anyway— in an Orthodox synagogue, and with only an Orthodox rabbi present.

As expected, the Masorti leaders were outraged by the unexpected move. Masorti Foundation Chairman Rabbi Robert Slosberg told:

“What happened, in essence, is that the children, who had all volunteered to be in our program were taken to an unfamiliar synagogue, propped up and posed for a photo-op instead of given a legitimate and respectful bar mitzvah.”

“We were neither invited nor informed of the ceremony. In a situation where all services for children with disabilities are provided by the municipality, Mayor [Rahamim] Malul coerced these parents and their children into participating in a sham bar mitzvah and spat in the face of Masorti Judaism.”

Rehovot’s mayor is yet to comment on the issue.

Source: The Times of Israel: Masorti leaders say movement sidelined in autistic bar mitzvahs