The Shluchim in Memphis, Tennessee, Rabbi Levi Klein and his wife Rivky recently spent a whirlwind 8 days in Israel with the Bierman family celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of their youngest son, Austin.
While the Bar Mitzva boy ascended Masada, visited Yad Vashem and was called to the Torah at the Kotel, his Bar Mitzvah was anything but conventional.
Austin dreamed of sharing his celebration with combat soldiers of the IDF and thanks to Rabbi Menachem Ofen of Or LaChayal and Zev Jacobson of Israel Maven Tours – his dream finally came true.
As the tour bus pulled in to the Paratrooper Training Base in the Negev Desert, Austin could barely contain his excitement. Here he was at the home of renowned Unit 101 whose soldiers have been at the forefront of thousands of missions.
At the base, Austin and his family were treated to a live-fire exercise and watched the grueling training undergone by elite forces. After the Sergeant-Major put Austin and his cousins through their paces it was time for a sumptuous and lively BBQ. Live music, fire-jugglers, and a dance-floor mobbed by 150 energetic, sweaty troops carrying Austin high up on their shoulders.
Translated by Rabbi Klein and surrounded by a sea of green, Austin addressed the troops: “My parents gave me the choice how and where to celebrate my Bar Mitzvah and I chose to be together with you!”
His father, Dr. Paul Bierman also told the crowd of cheering soldiers “We are so proud of you! We are so appreciative that you are serving and protecting our country. Thank you.”
Austin made a presentation to the soldiers collected from his friends and family in Memphis in lieu of Bar Mitzvah gifts. It was a night that left an impression, not only on Austin and his family but also on the soldiers who felt the warmth of the entire Memphis Community and the love of Chabad.