(JTA) – The U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, celebrated his son’s bar mitzvah in the same Prague synagogue that his ancestors attended before the Holocaust. The service for 13-year-old Alex Schapiro took place Aug. 20 in the Spanish Synagogue, which was built for a Reform congregation and is now part of the local Jewish museum. “It’s really cool and meaningful that I had my bar mitzvah at the same place my grandma – and my great-uncle, who was at my service – went for the holidays. I am really glad I could have it there, and I think my grandma would be too,” Alex Schapiro said.
The diplomat’s Prague-born mother, Raya Czerner Schapiro, was five when the Nazis occupied Prague. Her parents sent her and her sister to the United States in October 1939. She died in 2007.
Tamar Newberger, Alex’s mother, and his father brought Rabbi Asher Lopatin from the United States to officiate at the ceremony. The couple also had to arrange for a Torah scroll to be used in the service, as the one on hand was too aged and damaged to be considered fit according to religious laws. “This group of United Synagogue Youth brought it over in a golf bag in June, and it will be used by Prague’s Masorti community,” said Newberger about the Torah scroll. Masorti is the Conservative movement’s overseas arm.
CAP: Alex Schapiro