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B’nei Mitzvah Archive

September 2017

Samantha Agisim

Parashat Nitzavim - Vayeilech
Saturday, September 16

My favorite things about being Jewish are all of the different types of food we get to eat at holidays, family gatherings or whenever your mom feels like cooking something high in sodium. For me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I am now responsible for passing Jewish teachings and traditions on to others.

In preparing for my bat mitzvah, I learned that I am a great procrastinator and that I can stay up very late at night. My mitzvah project was working with fellow volunteers to help socialize with cats to help them get adopted. We would also clean the cages, replace their water, and sometimes I’d even have to clean the litter box. I chose this mitzvah project because I had heard of some of my friends doing this for a mitzvah project and really learning a lot from the experience so I decided to give it a shot. Sure enough, my mitzvah project taught me responsibility. I now have a better understanding of what it truly means to be responsible and holding up your end of the deal when working with others.

After my Bat Mitzvah, I plan to keep learning about Judaism by passing the lessons down to others to keep the religion thriving and I will also go to services to keep up to speed on my prayers!

Samantha is the daughter of Keith and Debbie Agisim and the sister of Jonah. Please send messages of Mazel Tov to Debbie.

Olivia Schwartz

Parashat Ki Tavo
Saturday, September 9

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the food and experiences. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah to me means becoming an adult in the eyes of God. While practicing for my Bat Mitzvah I learned practice makes perfect. My mitzvah project was focused on cleaning up a neighborhood and taking care of animals. I will continue my Judaism actively participating at Temple and celebrating holidays.

My parents are Susan and Tyson Schwartz. My sister is Hannah Schwartz. My grandparents are Don and Marge Schwartz and Ann and Saul Rossein, z’’l. Mazel Tov messages can be sent to Susan.

Jesse Handler

Parashat Ki Tavo
Saturday, September 9

My favorite thing about being Jewish is challah. I really love it – it’s the perfect mix of fluffy and yummy. To me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I should be getting more freedoms because I’m transitioning into being an adult.

Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah taught me that although things are hard at first, if you keep doing them and keep practicing, they will get easier and easier. Normally, I would push things aside or put them off if there was something I didn’t want to do…even if it was something that I had to do. Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah forced me to realize that what my parents and sister have said all along is true – things get easier the more you do them and you will continue to improve as long as you continue to try.

Jesse is the son of Lori and Keith Handler and the brother of Alexis. Jesse’s Grandparents are Penny Fierstein (Palm Beach Gardens, FL), Audrey and Seymour Handler (Boynton Beach, FL), and Norman and Laura Veis (Durham, NC). Please send messages of mazel tov to Lori.

August 2017

Sarah Andrews

Parashat Shoftim
Saturday, August 26

Being Jewish is remarkable. Even though sometimes being Jewish can be hard, I have always found something to make up for the difficult moment. I don’t know many who can say they spent all their life learning Hebrew, or that every week they have a holiday.

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah is a massive achievement for me. It shows that I’ve worked hard and followed directions throughout Hebrew school, tutoring every Sunday/Monday and even twice a week during my four weeks at camp. I know it’s worth it in the end because it means I get to celebrate with a large amount of my family, both people I’ve grown up with and those who I am just meeting – and of course the people who are actually related to me.

My Bat Mitzvah project was centered around Oasis. I got to spend time with people who are lots of fun and are much wiser than me. But learning about their lives and experiences made me so happy. I became friends with people whom I otherwise might never have met. I got to participate in chair yoga, art class and rummikub. I chose Oasis because it sounded like the perfect project for me. And of course it ended up being better than I thought it would be.

After my Bat Mitzvah I will continue to learn about Judaism by learning more Hebrew, assisting in Hebrew school classes and by taking my birthright trip to Israel when I turn 18.

Sarah Andrews is the daughter of Amy and Neil Andrews. She is the sister of Hannah, Hailey, Hannah, and Hazel. She is the granddaughter of Karen and Marlin Howard and Marge and Al Andrews. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to ncneil@windstream.net.

Ryan Kaplan

Parashat R'eih
Saturday, August 19

My favorite part about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays – I especially like Passover because I get to spend time with my extended family that live out of town.

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah is important because it shows that you are determined to work hard for a long period and continue the tradition of becoming a Bar Mitzvah.  I learned how to better manage my time, especially during the school year, to be ready for my tutoring each week.  I have also learned more about the stories in the Torah by reading about my portion.

I feel better because of my community service for my Mitzvah project.  At Urban Ministries, I helped prepare and serve meals to the homeless.  I also helped set up tables and get napkins and silverware ready.  It made me feel better because I knew that I helped people who are less fortunate than I am.  I also helped collect food for the needy as a member of Boy Scouts.  These helped me fulfill the mitzvah of feeding the hungry.

After my Bar Mtizvah, I plan to follow the traditions of being a Jewish adult, such as fasting on Yom Kippur and eventually I would like to lead my family in the Passover Seder.

Ryan is the son of Jen and Jon Kaplan.  He is the brother of Robert Kaplan. Messages of Mazel Tov can be sent to jonkaplan@att.net.

Jack Kelly

Parashat R'eih
Saturday, August 19

My favorite thing about being Jewish is learning about the Torah and reading Hebrew. It is very important to me to become a bar mitzvah because it means I will be a man in Jewish society and shows that I am growing up! I have learned lots about myself in Sheva and bar mitzvah classes. In addition, I got to spend time studying Torah, and discovered that I like Torah because it gives me a window into how people saw the world over 2000 years ago.

For my bar mitzvah project, I worked at the food bank, sorting food. I am very appreciative of people that sort food every single weekend who volunteer their time not because they have an obligation to fulfill but simply just to help other people. I am planning on participating in Hebrew High and Confirmation to learn more about Judaism and myself.

Jack Kelly is the son of Matthew Kelly and Jamie Jonas. He is the brother of Violet and Tess. He is the grandson of Martha and Mike O’Brien and Sherry and Bob Kelly. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to: matthew.charles.kelly@gmail.com.

Andrew Newmark

Parashat Va'etchanan
Saturday, August 5


My favorite thing about being Jewish is that I’m unique amongst my friends. I stand out and I’m proud to call myself a Jew. It means so much to me that I’m becoming a Bar Mitzvah. I have been looking forward to it ever since my brother had his four years ago. I have a mixture of feeling towards my Bar Mitzvah including, excitement, nervousness, and thrill. I have learned so much about myself in this process and it has helped me discover the different aspects of myself.

I also learned that when I put my mind to getting something done, that I can easily finish it if I
stay focused. My Mitzvah project, which is still ongoing, was when I worked with younger
baseball players. My team practiced with 8 year olds and it was so fun to help teach them the
basics and more baseball knowledge. I got the opportunity to help them field the ball and teach
them how to play infield. I chose this because I love working with kids and I always have a blast
helping them. Their baseball team is now in the coach pitch World Series and I couldn’t be
happier for them. My goal is to keep coaching and helping younger kids develop skills in the
sports I play. I plan to keep learning Judaism and living with Judaism by joining the BBYO
program. I have been looking forward to joining for so long. My brother is in the program and he loves it. I hope that my friends and I are able to join the program.

Andrew is the son of Steve and Laura Newmark and the brother of Scott. Please send messages of mazel tov to Steve and Laura.

Russell Golembe

Parashat Va'etchanan
Saturday, August 5

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that the food is great and the holidays are amazing. Also I love being Jewish because I love the community I have. I think that it is very important to have your bar mitzvah because it makes you a man in the Jewish community and now you are thought of as a grown man in Judaism.

I have learned that prepping for my bar mitzvah is just like sports; you have to practice a lot and never give up. Also I have learned that I do better when I have an energetic tutor.

For my Mitzvah Project, I spent the night at On Deck, which is my baseball facility. I went there and we did a lot of activities with kids younger than us and it was a lot of fun. When I am done with my bar mitzvah I want to go further in Judaism by doing BBYO with Andrew.

Russell is the son of Brett and Nena Golembe and the brother of Nia and Natalie. Please send messages of mazel tov to Brett and Nena.

July 2017

Lauryn Rosen

Parashat D'varim
Saturday, July 29

My favorite things about being Jewish are the traditions, food and holidays. I really love making homemade challah, and Passover is my favorite holiday because we have family and friends that come from many places and it is great to talk to them and have a seder together. To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means growing into another phase in my life with increased freedom, but also responsibility. I’m so glad my family and friends can celebrate with me.

For my mitzvah project, I helped workers at a soup kitchen prepare food for the homeless people who don’t have any food. The soup kitchen at Ascension Lutheran likes to make the place seem as much like a restaurant as possible, so I was a server who got guests drinks and brought them their food. Doing this project really opened my eyes to how many homeless people there are that need our help. Volunteering, even for just a few hours, can help a lot.  I plan to keep learning about Judaism and living with Judaism by keeping Jewish traditions and going to Hebrew High.

Lauryn is the daughter of Doug and Marlene Rosen. She is the sister of Avery, Emerson, and Delaney. She is the granddaughter of Marsha Rosen of  Fort Mill, SC, Ellen Schaadt of Van Wert, OH, Larry and Corinne Rosen of Miami, FL, Sandy and Joe Marschke of Constantine, MI and Liz Mast of Elkhart IN. Please send all Mazel Tovs to laurynmrosen@gmail.com.

Logan Mandell

Parashat D'varim
Saturday, July 29

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all of the holidays because I like all of the food and really enjoy coming together with family. To become a bar mitzvah means the world to me. It makes me feel I have accomplished something I have been preparing for since I was a baby.
During Sheva and in preparing for my bar mitzvah, I learned that I have my own personality. I now know Hebrew and more about Judaism.

My mitzvah project was helping lower-income families and playing with their kids. I also spent time at King’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen for homeless people, and I served and greeted guests coming to eat. I am so glad I did it, it definitely changed how I look at the world.
I will plan on being a Jewish adult by coming to services and going to other families bar/bat mitzvah services. Being Jewish will always be in me.

Logan is the son of Ross Mandell and Alicia Fink. He is the brother of Devon and the step-brother of Carson, Laney and Tabbi. He is the grandson of Ellen and Joel Mandell of Simsbury, Connecticut and Emily Roy of Kensington, Connecticut. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to rossmandell@mac.com.

Griffin Weidner

Parashat Matot/Masei
Saturday, July 22

My favorite things about being Jewish are all of the holidays, traditions, and food along with the ability to question and learn more about Judaism. For me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means a lot because it signifies the end of a long journey in which I’ve had to learn many different prayers and sections of Torah. Throughout Sheva and the B’nei Mitzvah process, I’ve learned to be more motivated. I was never motivated to go to Hebrew and Sunday school when I was younger because….. well it was boring! I hated it, but once you’ve gone through the process of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, you realize that it’s an experience that you will remember. It teaches you many different things and you learn about a lot of stuff throughout the process. I want to try to keep up my participation in the Jewish community by going to most of the holiday services, Saturday and Friday once in awhile (when I don’t have soccer). I possible could become a madrich as well.

Griffin Weidner is the son of Greg and Julianne. He is the brother of Olivia and Eliza. Messages of mazel tov can be sent to gregweidner@gmail.com.

Isaac Gale

Parashat Balak
Saturday, July 8

My favorite part about being Jewish is getting to become a Bar Mitzvah. There are many great things that come with it like getting to become an adult in Judaism and having a party to celebrate with my friends and family.  I also get congratulations cards with money and probably other rewards from my parents. So becoming a Bar Mitzvah is all around good.

Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah was a lot of hard work and a big time commitment.  As a result,  I learned to manage time so that I was prepared each week for my tutoring.  This was more responsibility than I have had in the past.  The whole process helped me mature in my thinking about Judaism and gave me a new appreciation for what it means to be an adult in the Jewish community.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at Bright Blessings, an organization that serves homeless children or those whose parents can’t afford birthday presents or parties.  I prepared Bright Blessing packages for homeless kids at the shelters. I also helped make goodie bags for classroom celebrations, so birthday kids feel special, even if their parents cannot send cupcakes to school on their birthday.  I also volunteered at a group home operated by InReach, an organization that provides housing and vocational services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  I enjoyed helping those in need and it really made me appreciate everything I have in my life.

Isaac is the son of Dawn and Anthony Gale.  He is the brother of Ayla Gale. Words of Mazel Tov can be sent to dgale28226@gmail.com.

Ty Fischel

Parashat Balak
Thursday, July 6

Ty will celebrate his bar mitzvah on July 6 in the Bahamas.

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that it adds to my ever-expanding list of things that make me different from the average person. I mean, like, I already was different enough, so I decided to be happy about being different. To me, becoming a bar mitzvah means becoming more accountable, and also a long title that my friends can’t pronounce and they think is relatively cool.

I plan to continue my Jewish studies by volunteering at my local temple as a tutor. During my time at Hebrew school, I have learned more about myself as a Jewish person. I have also learned that, if I put my mind to it, I can pretty much get anything done.

Ty Fischel is the son of Cynthia and Richard Fischel. He is the brother of Sabrina Fischel. Messages of mazel tov can be sent to tmf21404@gmail.com

June 2017

Sylvia Vitner

Parashat Korach
Saturday, June 24

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the supportive community helping me keep up with my Bat Mitzvah work and other religious activities. Being a Bat Mitzvah means to become a bigger part of this community, and become more involved with religious matters. Through preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I’ve learned the distinct meaning of each individual prayer, which all praise God in their own way. Now I know why services are so long!

My first mitzvah project was at the Adult Care and Share facility, where I volunteered and helped adults with special needs. I helped serve food and socialize with the elderly whose days are often too repetitive. I plan to continue learning about and living with Judaism by attending services and participating in community activities.

I am the daughter of Mark and Amy Vitner. Messages of congratulations can be sent to amy.vitner@gmail.com.

B’nei Mitzvah in Israel

Parashat Sh'lach L'cha
Saturday, June 17 in Israel

The following boys became b’nei mitzvah on the Congregational Trip to Israel on June 17.

Anderson Cohen

Ethan Feit

Benjamin Kaplan







Brian Rosenzweig

Scott Stein

Sam Waller

Harris Warne

Parashat B'haalot'cha
Saturday, June 10

Being Jewish is really unique.  We have our own country and language and not that many people can say that.  But what makes it fun is all the holidays we observe and the food we eat at every celebration.

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah is a significant achievement for me.  It has taken many years of preparation at Sunday School and Hebrew School not to mention my last 5 months of Bar Mitzvah tutoring.  But it’s worth it at the end because I get to join a group a crowd of people who have the same accomplishment.  It’s a special club, a Bar Mitzvah club.  And now that I am an adult in the Jewish Community, I get to do things like drink wine (of course with my parent’s permission).  Throughout all the preparation, I learned it takes hard work and dedication to accomplish goals such as this one.

My Bar Mitzvah project centered around my all year round sport:  swimming.  This summer I will serve as a volunteer for my neighborhood swim team.  I will help the younger swimmers at practice and set up / clean up for each home swim meet.  I will also volunteer at the neighborhood swim-a-thon in August that benefits the Charlotte Rescue Mission.  My project allows me to spend more time at the pool and help out young kids.  After my Bar Mitzvah, I will continue to learn about Judaism by fasting on Yom Kippur and participating at Passover seders.

Harris Warne is the son of Wendy and Stewart. He is the grandson of Mike Diamond of York, SC and Mary Jane Warne of Tulsa, OK. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to: wdwarne@gmail.com.

Ari Swartz

Parashat B'haalot'cha
Saturday, June 10

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being able to say words in Hebrew around my friends who don’t understand  and then teach them what they mean (when I can). I like the fact that I can BE Jewish, out in the open, and that if people make fun of me I can stand up for myself and know that in America, we are all supposed to be able to practice our religions freely. I like being able to come to Temple Beth El and have awesome people help me learn and pray and answer my questions.

For me, becoming bat mitzvah means the end of a long hard process that has been really stressful for me and my family at times. But it also means the beginning of something – becoming bat mitzvah means I can consider myself older because I have done something mature. From now on, I count as part of a minyan and am able to come up to the bima for an aliyah.

As I was preparing for my bat mitzvah, I learned that when I focus, I am able to teach others and think deeply about big ideas. I also learned that when I decide to do something and put in the time and effort to work hard, I can succeed.

Ari Swartz is the daughter of Heide Swartz and Mark Swartz. She is the sister of Hudson Swartz. She is the granddaughter of Ira Swartz and Helen Drouin. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to Ari at alexthearrogant@gmail.com.

Jadeyn Zurosky

Parashat B'haalot'cha
Saturday, June 10

Jadeyn will become a Bat Mitzvah on June 10 on Rhode Island.

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays and spending time with family.  I also love all of the Jewish traditions and how being Jewish isn’t about getting presents, it’s more about tradition and the value of family.  What becoming a Bat Mitzvah means to me is that I am becoming an adult in the Jewish community.  I am learning the importance of Jewish values and how I should live my life as a Jew.  At the beginning of my studies, I had doubt in myself because I didn’t think I could learn to read Hebrew.  I learned that I am capable of taking on a new challenge, and becoming successful in achieving a new and challenging goal.

My mitzvah project was helping out with some of my mother’s autistic clients.  I chose this because I thought it was important to learn about people with differences, and I am interested in what my mother does for a living.  I learned that everyone is capable of learning, even if they may learn in a different way.  It also made me appreciate and realize that I was born healthy and without any learning challenges.

As a Jewish adult, I will plan on continuing to attend services.  I learned that I actually enjoy services, especially Friday night services.  I will continue to celebrate the Jewish holidays and will raise my children Jewish.  It is important to do mitzvahs and treat others right and with respect.  Being Jewish is about family and tradition and I hope to keep the values in my daily life.

Jadeyn is the daughter of Alyson Shaffer and Kirk Zurosky.  She is the sister of Sydney Zurosky.  Her grandmother and grandfather are Joan and Richard Shaffer and they live in Salem, Massachusetts.  Notes of mazel tov can be sent to: Solvingautism@gmail.com

Zachary Fuentes

Parashat Naso
Saturday, June 3

My favorite things about being Jewish are the holidays (but not the high holidays). I really like Passover, mostly because of the food – orange slices and potato kugel and matzah. Matzah is my favorite.

For me, becoming a bar mitzvah means opening a new chapter of my life. When I began preparing for this moment, I definitely could not have read from the Torah, and now I can. Becoming a bar mitzvah also means I “become a man,” which mostly means I get to do stuff I wasn’t allowed to do when I was younger. One of the things I learned while preparing for my bar mitzvah service is that I am actually pretty good at reading Hebrew! I also learned that it all pays off in the end – you work so hard for years in order to become a bar mitzvah, and all of that hard work actually does have a purpose.

For my mitzvah project, I tutored little kids at Winget Park Elementary School in math. I chose this project because I know I am really smart in math, and some kids aren’t – so I figured I would help other people get better at something I am already good at. More than anything, I learned patience in taking on this project, because the kids could be really annoying at some times and you just have to learn how to deal with them. I also came to understand a little bit more of what my parents have to deal with in taking care of me and my brother.

Zachary is the son of Rachel and Douglas Fuentes and the brother of Sam. Words of Mazel tov can be sent to rachelfuentes4569@yahoo.com.

May 2017

Ethan Hill

Parashat Bemidbar
Saturday, May 27

My name is Ethan Matthew Hill.  I’m the son of Richard and Caren Hill. I have two lovely sisters.  For your information, no they did not pay me to say that.  First there is Bayleigh who is two years older than me.  Then comes me and then there is Delanie who is three years younger than me. I am also blessed to have 5 amazing grandparents: Jack and Marjorie Levins, and the late Marlene Levins and Eleanor and the late Benjamin Hill.  I also have a very big extended family who I love very much, but going into detail on every member would take way too long. I also have four dogs and I would like to emphasize the fact that they are adorable.

Back to the topic of myself, and I so enjoy talking about myself…not! My favorite thing about being Jewish is meeting new people on Jewish holidays, events, and services.  Speaking of services, I had to prepare a lot for my Bar Mitzvah, and through that I have learned that I am a very hard worker.  I finished every possible prayer/song for my Bar Mitzvah with five weeks to spare.

I also had to complete a mitzvah project. My mitzvah project was to help elders, along with the help of my friend Ben Blau, with their electronics because I really enjoy electronics. However, I learned that I also enjoy meeting new people and learning about their past. The only issue with this mitzvah project was that it took an hour to get there, which means you can bet my mom and I had some great conversations…because every teenage boy loves talking in great lengths to his parents.

If you would like to congratulate me in becoming a bar mitzvah, please direct your notes of mazel tov to: mktingdr@aol.com or levins92071@gmail.com