The coronavirus pandemic may have shut our places of worship - but a 13-year-old Jewish boy was not going to let that stop him from marking one of the most important milestones in his life.

For the last 18 months, Nathan Wolfson, from Radlett, has been learning a portion of the Torah in preparation for his bar mitzvah, scheduled for Saturday March 28.

A bar mitzvah is a huge commemoration in Judaism - for boys, when they turn 13, they pick up the rights and obligations for becoming an adult.

But in the weeks leading up to March 28, Nathan and his family couldn't help be concerned about how the bar mitzvah ceremony and customary party celebrations would take place with the country heading for lockdown.

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Nathan Wolfson. Credit: Kate Swerdlow Photography

A bar mitzvah takes place in a synagogue but the Wolfson family realised this was no longer possible - but they didn't want to postpone the Hebrew reading because it meant Nathan would have to learn a new portion of the Torah.

So instead, Nathan's bar mitzvah took place in his living room on Saturday, alongside his father Michael, mother Rona, and sister Tamzin, and a video call linked him to up Rabbi Paul Freedman from Radlett Reform Synagogue and Cantor Sarah Grabinor.

His bar mitzvah was streamed live on Facebook and he been watched more than 1,300 times.

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Nathan's bar mitzvah was streamed live

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Speaking after the event, Nathan, a pupil at Habs' Boys in Elstree, said: "I was a bit disappointed that I was not going to have a normal service but the idea grew on me. I realised it would be something more to remember.

"I had to talk to a camera instead of a congregation. It was quite thrilling knowing someone's watching. You get more people watching you than at any other bar mitzvah.

"To people like me who have their bar mitzvahs coming up, I'd say keep carrying on because you get to share it with a lot people."

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The set-up in the Wolfson's living room

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Nathan was joined by sister Tamzin, left, and his mum and dad Rona and Michael. Credit: Kate Swerdlow Photography

Nathan's father Michael said he was "exceptionally proud" of his son.

He said: "It makes us feel like we seized triumph from the grips of adversity and despair when you see how many people watched online. We had people joining from all around the world.

"I'm exceptionally proud of how well Nathan has studied and coped in the change of how it would be broadcast. At one stage, we had five different versions of how the service may be conducted."

"Being so close to Nathan while he was reading made the whole event more intimate, It was a fun experience and everyone at the synagogue was really supportive."

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This is where Nathan would have expected his bar mitzvah to have taken place - at Radlett Reform Synagogue. Credit: Kate Swerdlow Photography

Mr Wolfson added that his son's Torah piece was about sacrifice which he said was relevant to the challenges facing the world tackling the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, Nathan was unable to celebrate his bar miztvah with a party on Saturday - but his parents have promised his party will come when it is safe again to celebrate properly.