B’nei Mitzvah

March 2019

Ryan Para

Parashat Vayak'heil
Saturday, March 2

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being able to celebrate holidays like Chanukah because it’s so long and fun, Purim because of the groggers, and Rosh Hashanah because of the apples and honey. To me, being a Bar Mitzvah means becoming an adult and having my opinion matter. In preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, I learned more of what the prayers mean in depth, which helped me understand our traditions better.

My mitzvah project was creating playlists of songs from the past (like Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, etc.) for the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living facility, along with donating a MP3 player and speakers. I chose this project because my Grandfather, William, suffered and passed away from Alzheimer’s and my Mom told me that even when he wasn’t himself, his favorite music always made him happy. Music seemed to be a way that he was able to recall happy memories from his past. I wanted others suffering from Alzheimer’s to have this gift as well.

After my Bar Mitzvah, I plan to keep learning about Judaism by continuing with Hebrew High, celebrating the holidays and being part of events at Temple.

Ryan is the son of Jody and Chris Para and the brother of Brynn and Wyatt. His grandparents are Cecile Waronker of Atlanta, GA and Jeanie Para & Wayne Simpson of Gainesville, GA. Send messages of Mazel Tov.


Anneke Lewis

Parashat T'tzaveh
Saturday, February 16

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the community – that everyone helps each other and lifts each other up. As I have gone through the bat mitzvah process, including going to services and learning prayers, I have felt more and more a part of this community and able to participate in services. In preparing to become a bat mitzvah, I have learned that doing a little bit of work each day can add up and create something wonderful.

For my mitzvah project, I have been volunteering with the Charlotte Symphony Guild musical petting zoo, helping children of all ages and backgrounds learn to play brass instruments. As a French Horn player, I enjoyed seeing small children’s eyes light up when they first made a sound. As a Jewish adult, I will keep going to services and participating in this community.

Anneke is the daughter of Karen and Kevin Lewis. She is the sister of Saskia Lewis. She is the granddaughter of Dan and Linda Lewis of Seattle WA, Linda Lewis and Frank Arms of Corvallis OR, and Bob and Joyce Beck of Fort Worth TX. Send notes of Mazal Tov.

Jake Siesel

Parashat T'tzaveh
Saturday, February 16

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being different than everyone else. Throughout history, we have been enslaved and tormented for being Jewish and it is awesome to be able to practice my religion in peace. I am always happy to educate others about my religion and I have never been ashamed of being Jewish. To me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I have passed the first stage of being a good Jew. Based on our Jewish traditions, we should assist our neighbors and always be happy to give a lending hand. I hope that the community service work that I did will help inspire me to do good in my community. During my preparation for becoming a Bar Mitzvah, I learned that I need to truly dedicate myself to tasks in order to not only accomplish them, but thrive.

For my mitzvah project, I was able to use my Spanish abilities to tutor a young boy that had difficulty reading. After spending time with him, his performance in the classroom drastically improved and I have developed a friendship with him and his wonderful family. I plan on continuing to tutor him and to serve as a mentor to him as he grows up. I learned that this mitzvah project was not just supposed to be just community service for 13 hours. It was supposed to teach us how to better our community and that is what I took away from it.

Jake is the son of Jason and Yami Siesel. He is the brother of Isabella Siesel. He is the grandson of Ernest and Pierrette Siesel of Boca Raton FL, Miriam Haber of Hialeah FL, and Pedro and Esther Haber of Miami, FL. Send notes of mazel tov.

Shayla Siegel

Parashat Mishpatim
Saturday, February 2

To be a Bat Mitzvah means to understand Judaism and prayer through a new and different lens. Going to Bat Mitzvah tutoring has taught me to pay more attention during services and now I have a better understanding of what the prayers mean and why we say them. While preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I found myself asking a lot of hard and unanswerable questions that everyone had an opinion about. This led me to seeking answers that fit my opinions and my beliefs. My favorite thing about being Jewish is coming together as a congregation to pray. I love going to services and being in a happy and welcoming community surrounded by the people and things I love most.

While preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I completed multiple service projects including volunteering at McKee Road Elementary School to help with their fall festival and kids’ voting. This was fun for me because I got to help out at my old school and teach kids the importance of voicing their opinion. I also made blankets and toys for the Humane Society’s dogs so they could have fun, new toys to play with and blankets to cuddle with. Another thing I did was help sell bagels to raise money for the Temple Beth El Youth Group. This was important to me because the funds help send kids like me to Jewish Camps for the summer. After completing several Mitzvah projects, I was proud of myself for doing Tikkun Olam and making the world a better place. It felt good to know that I was making a difference in the world and making an impact on others around me.

Shayla is the daughter of Michelle and Andy Siegel, and the sister of Jocelyn. She is the granddaughter of Barbara and David Bender of Reading, PA and Teri and Steve Siegel of Charlotte, NC. Send messages of Mazel Tov.

Asher Yesowitch

Parashat Mishpatim
Saturday, February 2

My favorite part of being Jewish is the food like, bagels and latkes. I also love getting together with family and friends at the holidays and creating new traditions. Becoming Bar Mitzvah means becoming a Jewish adult and having more responsibilities for the Jewish community, like leading services, reading Torah, and participating. Sheva has been fun because I like having interesting conversations with the rabbis and my friends. Preparing for my bar mitzvah confirmed what I already know because of all the times my parents brought me to services and participated in Jewish life at home.

For my mitzvah project, I sorted books that people had donated to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Then I volunteered at ImaginOn for Epicfest and helped families choose books to take home for free to build their home library. It was fun to see books I knew, and I really liked helping little kids find the book that they wanted. Lots of kids were really excited to have a book to take home. I will keep learning about Judaism by participating in Hebrew High and continue to learn more Torah by tutoring other b’nei mitzvah students in the future.

Asher is the son of Martha and Brian Yesowitch and the brother of Nora. His grandparents are Glenn and Pam Link of Augusta, GA and Bill and Judy Yesowitch of Delray Beach, FL. Send notes of congratulations.

Eli Vitner

Parashat Yitro
Saturday, January 26

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays – especially Chanukah, because of the presents. To me, being a bar mitzvah means becoming an adult but still a minor. You don’t have all the abilities of an adult, but you’re no longer considered a child in the eyes of Judaism.

What I learned about myself when preparing for my bar mitzvah is that I skip a lot of words when reading. I like to simplify things when possible. Moving forward, I plan to continue to go to services and celebrate the holidays.

Eli Vitner is the son of Amy and Mark Vitner. He is the brother of Saul and Sylvia Vitner. He is the grandson of Roger and Susan Gamache of Florida and Joan Vitner of Atlanta, Georgia. He is the great-grandson of Jeanne Gamache of Massachusetts. Send notes of mazel tov.

See B'nei Mitzvah Archive