A ‘royal’ bat mitzvah celebration was brought to Cambodia from Las Vegas.
Cambodia’s royal family celebrated the bat mitzvah of Elior Koroghli, the Jewish great-granddaughter of the late Cambodian King Monivong. The plush festivities took place in December at the Raffles Hotel in Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh.
The elaborate party included kosher food catered by Chabad of Cambodia, founded in 2009 by Rabbi Bentzion and Mashie Butman. Israeli celebrity Chef Kobi Mizrahi supervised the royal dishes. Mizrahi “took over the kitchen and guided Chabad’s staff in creating meals that were truly ‘fit for a king’,” according to Chabad.org.
Some of the kosher food was also prepared in the hotel kitchen under the watchful eye of Koroghli’s mother Susie, granddaughter of King Monivong, who ruled Cambodia until his death in 1941. Her father was the Cambodian ambassador to the US. She was raised as a Buddhist in Washington, D.C..
However, after meeting her husband, Ray, a Persian Jew who escaped the Iranian Revolution in 1979, she became intrigued with Judaism. This led to her formal conversion.
The bat mitzvah girl first celebrated her actual rite-of-passage at the age of 12 in Las Vegas, where the couple and their three children live.
They are an integral part of the Chabad of Henderson community. The family regularly hosts 30 guests for Shabbat. They have a giant sukkah that accommodates over 100 people, and they hosted 500 guests for the holiday of Purim.
And, just like in the Book of Esther, 2:23 – “This was recorded in the book of annals at the instance of the king” – the event was chronicled in the Royal Palace Record Book, reported Chabad.org.
The “royal” party took place nearly a year later, during Chanukah. Included was the lighting of a large menorah and moving speeches about the beauty and depth of Judaism.
In attendance were an Israeli Chabad rabbi, the who’s who of the royal family and a crowd of well-wishers, according to the report. The family formally met Cambodia’s current ruler, HM King Norodom Sihamoni, and Queen Mother HM Norodom Monineath after the party.
Susie knew that she was of royal descent. However, she first visited Cambodia in 2012, representing her mother at the funeral of the late king HM Norodom Sihanouk. During that visit, she realized just how royal she was.
“She lights up the room wherever she goes,” Ray said about his wife, according to Chabad.org. “People are just drawn to her and are fascinated by her knowledge of Judaism as well as her actions.”