The America-Israel Bat Mitzvah of Love

Apr 17, 2013

For Francine Lilien and her family and friends, her Bat Mitzvah will always be remembered as the Francine-Shira, America-Israel Bat Mitzvah of chessed and love. It was the Bat Mitzvah of a special set of twins – connected not biologically but through love and kindness and true Jewish commitment to help the weak and needy.

Francine Lilien of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was preparing for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah.  The values her family had instilled in her made her stop and think: How can I make this special day meaningful?

The answer was simple: by giving the same opportunity to someone who would otherwise never be able to experience it.

Shira B. has lived at ALEH Jerusalem since she was a toddler. A beautiful, sweet, fun-loving girl, Shira is always full of smiles that light up the room.

Unfortunately, Shira, who was born very prematurely, suffers from severe cognitive and physical handicaps. She is legally blind and can only see something very bright and at close range.

Shira loves music, musical instruments, and playing with sensory stimulants (sponges, water, stress balls and other textures). Her favorite therapies are Snoezelen, vision therapy and the Gymboree.  She has good motor control and very much enjoys feeding herself, reveling in her ability to be independent.

Francine had never met Shira personally, but she felt an immediate connection to her when Dov Hirth, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coordinator for ALEH, sent her Shira’s picture and profile. Francine responded that she would be honored to be Shira’s twin.

Taking this new relationship very seriously, Francine put together a beautiful collage about Shira and her home at ALEH, which she shared with her guests at her Bat Mitzvah party.  She spoke about Shira in her speech and described how special she feels to be twinning with her.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic a party was held for Shira at ALEH Jerusalem. Shira’s parents, siblings, classmates and teachers all joined together in song and dance, giving Shira a truly beautiful Bat Mitzvah party.

Thank you, Francine, for fulfilling someone else’s dream and making the greatest difference you could ever have wished for!

To find out how you can celebrate a Twinning Bar/Bat Mitzvah with an ALEH child, please contact Dov Hirth of ALEH: Toll Free: 1.866.717.0252 /

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