September 12th, 2011
08:16 PM ET

Holocaust survivor celebrates bar mitzvah

(CNN) - Sol Laufer, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor, celebrated his bar mitzvah Saturday.

The German native missed his chance as a young man to celebrate the coming-of-age ritual, which young Jewish men participate in at age 13, because his family was on the run. At age 14, he ended up in a concentration camp.

"I am doing this to proclaim to the Nazis that they did not succeed," Laufer told CNN affiliate WWSB. "Here I am, after all of that. I am healthy, I have a nice family, and I am having a bar mitzvah."

Laufer was the lone survivor from his family and said he was able to survive only by thinking of his mother.

"I used to dream that she was with me, holding me and feeding me water. She would tell me that I would be OK and I need to have patience," he told WWSB.

Rabbi Chain Steinmetz conducted the service at Chabad of Sarasota, Florida.

"I almost had a sleepless night last night because of the excitement that fills me. To be able to be a part of this is something I will cherish the rest of my life," the rabbi said.

Laufer decided to have his bar mitzvah after discussions with his wife, Sadie, and Steinmetz.

He now joins his three children and five grandchildren who have marked their coming of age.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Florida • Judaism • Torah • United States

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.