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B’nei Mitzvah

April 2019

Erandi Guadarrama

Parashat Acharei Mot I
Saturday, April 27

One of my favorite things about being Jewish is seeing how far we have come and it gives me the courage to keep going. For example, a long time ago we were slaves and being tormented but with God’s help we came a long way. It encourages me that every day while things don’t seem fine, they will always get better no matter what. To me becoming a bat mitzvah is very important because I have reached a huge milestone in the Jewish community. This also means that I have to be more responsible and more active in the Jewish community. In preparing for my bat mitzvah, I was surprised to learn the music of the trope, the cantillation notes with the Hebrew. Cantor Thomas highlighted the different trope symbols. I learned that most of the highlighted words and symbols in the same color are in the same tune. This amazed me because I never really thought about it until I was studying my Torah portion.

For my mitzvah project, I went to an elderly home and spent some time with them and gave them company. I also volunteered at a homeless shelter and I went to go help set up a garden at a therapeutic farm. I plan to keep learning about Judaism by attending services and to keep sabbath, also by always doing good deeds and being an overall good person.

Erandi is the daughter of Julio and Ruth Guadarrama. She is the sister of Jatsiri and Benjamin Guadarrama. She is the granddaughter of Memo and Silvia of Mexico City, Mexico and Tere and Pablo of Mexico City, Mexico.

Hailey Turtz

Parashat Acharei Mot I
Saturday, April 27

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating holidays with my family and friends.  I also love celebrating Shabbat with my Camp friends over the summer, and the sense of community I feel when I am at Temple Beth El.  Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I am officially considered an adult in the Jewish community.  It also means accepting more responsibility in my family, whether it is owning up to my actions or helping my parents around the house doing chores.

For my Mitzvah project I volunteered at The Friendship Circle..  The Friendship Circle is an organization that supports children with special needs through friendship.  On one day I made pottery with some of the children while celebrating some of their birthdays.  I learned that some of the children at the Friendship Circle do not have any friends because of their differences.  It was a privilege to play with and celebrate with my new, special friends.

I will continue volunteering at The Friendship Circle in the future, as I believe everyone should know and have friendship.  After my bat mitzvah, I plan to keep traditions by celebrating the holidays with my family and attending synagogue.  I plan to always live with Jewish values.

Hailey is the daughter of Evan and Brenda Turtz.  She is the sister of Spencer, who became a bar mitzvah 2 years ago.  She is the granddaughter of Martin (of blessed memory) and Maxine Chodroff of New Jersey, Neil and Edythe Holzman of New Jersey, and Robert and Susan Turtz of Massachusetts. Send notes of Mazel Tov.


Donovan Abeshaus

Parashat Tazria
Saturday, April 6

My favorite part about being Jewish is being different from all of my friends. In my day-to-day life, I don’t come across many Jewish people outside of Shalom Park. I love that I have different holidays and traditions than most of my friends. When I’m at Temple Beth El or the JCC, I have my Jewish community around me. But the actual best part of being Jewish is the food. I like how food represents and symbolizes so many different things, such as dipping apples in honey for a sweet new year at Rosh HaShanah.

For my mitzvah project, I chose Time Out Youth as the organization I wanted to help. Time Out Youth is the LGBTQ safe space that offers kids not only a place to hang out or get a hot meal, but also helps find housing, counseling, and so much more for individuals who may not be welcome in their own homes, just for being themselves. My mitzvah project was a Grand Night for Singing benefit concert, that I performed and emceed, along with a bunch of my middle school friends. We raised thousands of dollars to benefit Time Out Youth.

Donovan is the son of Jon Abeshaus and Rebecca Levy. He is the brother of Sydney. He is the grandson of Barry and Selma Abeshaus of Sarasota, FL, Nancy Levy of Bethlehem, PA, and Edward and Ursla Levy of Bethlehem, PA.

Rebekah Bartkowski

Parashat Tazria
Saturday, April 6

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being unique and different from others. The majority of people in Charlotte (and the world) are not Jewish. As Jews, we have different holidays, foods, rituals, and customs. I always look forward to celebrating holidays with family and friends. Our traditions bring us together.

In Jewish tradition, a Bat Mitzvah means gaining responsibility and becoming an adult. Well….I’m only 13. So, I’m not really an “adult.” The process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah has encouraged me to notice things around me that I hadn’t noticed before. For example, during services I notice the families who stand up to honor the memories of their loved ones. During my Mitzvah Project, I realized that there are many working parents who need help watching their children and many children who need the support of community.

I have been volunteering with kids at an after-school program at a local school. Working with kids is one of my favorite things to do. I read to the children, help them to color and draw, and complete their homework. Our city has kids who need extra attention and support. I’m going to continue to volunteer and I encourage others to help out, too.

I look forward to celebrating as a Jewish adult, continuing with youth groups and BBYO, and Hebrew High. I also look forward to teaching people about Judaism.

Rebekah is the daughter of Lori and Tim Bartkowski and the younger sister of Rachael and Leah. Send notes of congratulations.

Alexa Kirschner

Parashat Tzav
Saturday, March 23

My favorite part about being Jewish is the people/the community. People at Temple Beth El are very kind and generous. They will drop everything to help you if you need something, so don’t hesitate to ask! Becoming a bat mitzvah is very important – to me it is a big milestone in life because honestly, it takes a lot of work to become one. I worked for a long time to get here, and then you get to the day and then it’s over! But it is a very big part of life that I will remember forever.

During Sheva and in preparation for this moment, I learned just how much work it takes to become a bat mitzvah, and also that I am capable of doing that work. It took a lot of perseverance and persistence, and I learned that I am capable of both.

For my mitzvah project I worked with an organization called Hands On Charlotte. At first, I honestly didn’t know what to do for my mitzvah project, and then I found on Hands On Charlotte, which had a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. My favorite experience was going to White Oak Center, a senior home, and bringing my dog Cooper to let the seniors pet him. This experience taught me that when someone is having a bad day – or even a good one – you can always help them in some kind of way; it will make their day, even if it is a small gesture. Now that I am a bat mitzvah, I will continue to do community service and stay connected to the Jewish community by going to Sheva and coming to services.

Alexa Kirschner is the daughter of Steve Kirschner and Heidi Kirschner and the stepdaughter of Lisa Vogel. She is the sister of Marcus Kirscher, Ryan Vogel, Shayna Vogel, and Kyle Vogel. She is the granddaughter of Joan Kirschner of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jim Adelman of Palm Beach Gardens Florida, and Gunnel and Richard Greenhagen. Send notes of mazel tov. 

Reece Newman

Parashat Vayikra
Saturday, March 16

My favorite thing about being Jewish is standing out – it makes me feel unique. Plus, when you say “I’m Jewish,” people are really interested, and say  “Tell me more,” so it’s also a conversation starter.

Becoming a bar mitzvah means I’m becoming more of an adult in the Jewish community – it doesn’t mean I all of a sudden make all of my decisions, but it does mean I get to think more about what it means to become my own person with my own choices on how to be a part of the Jewish community. In preparing for my bar mitzvah, one thing I learned about myself is that I like going to Shabbat services! The music is peaceful, and it’s nice to sit and relax for a few minutes. It takes my mind off of school, especially things like tests.

I love to cook, and so I am finding ways to cook for a good cause for my mitzvah project through organizations like Meals on Wheels and Ronald McDonald House. I plan to keep learning with Judaism and living with Judaism by going to Friday night services, keeping up with the major holidays – and maybe I’ll even learn to make challah myself!

Reece Newman is the son of Michael and Jennifer Newman. He is the brother of Sydnie and Tori Newman. He is the grandson of Ed and Jill Newman of Charlotte NC, and Gerald (and Joan, z’’l) Crane of New York. Send notes of mazel tov!

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.

See B'nei Mitzvah Archive