B’nei Mitzvah Archive

August 2019

Molly Houser

Va-et'chanan
Saturday, August 17

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays, and of course the food. I love getting together with my family to celebrate the Jewish holidays such as Passover and Chanukah.  Some of my favorite Jewish foods are challah French toast, and my grandma’s delicious Matzo ball soup. To me, becoming a bat mitzvah means becoming a Jewish adult and taking on more responsibilities in my everyday life.

For my mitzvah project, I chose to work with the elderly at Oasis Senior Enrichment Program. While volunteering at Oasis, I did arts and crafts with the seniors, helped them with their technology, and learned and played games with them. Volunteering there, I got to meet and get to know a lot of kind people. It was so fun to go and hang out with them and I made lots of new friends. They taught me to live life to the fullest and to enjoy everything I do. Now that I am a bat mitzvah, I am going to continue practicing Judaism by continuing to observe and celebrate the Jewish holidays, go to services, and I am going to continue to work with the people at Oasis.

Molly Houser is the daughter of Alison Houser and Lindsey Houser. She is the sister of Jack Houser. She is the granddaughter of Cindy and Richard Schneider of Sun City, South Carolina and Richard and Jane Anne Houser of Annapolis, Maryland. Send notes of mazal tov.

Emily Schenkel

D'varim
Saturday, August 10

My favorite part of being Jewish is participating in services because when I do, I always feel connected to all the other people in the room and I just feel more alive during services. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah shows me that I have grown through my Jewish education, even though there is more education to come. It doesn’t tell me that I am an adult, it tells me that in Jewish settings I can feel like an adult, from helping in services to everything else. Going through all my Bat Mitzvah training, I have learned that I’m a lot more patient than I thought.

My mitzvah project was serving as a junior counselor at Camp K.C, my summer camp. I chose to be a junior counselor at Camp K.C. because the camp is like my second home and I’ve always wanted to be a helper there. I also am a year round volunteer at the Temple Beth El gift shop. I went on three offsites with the gift shop and have always helped out during the religious school year. I plan to keep going to services as much as I can and celebrating all the Jewish holidays throughout the year to keep Judaism in my life.

Emily Schenkel is the daughter of Merril and Richard Schenkel. She is the sister of Jonathan Schenkel. She is the granddaughter of Jeffrey and Susan Rettig of Charlotte, NC.  Send notes of mazal tov.

Emily Lederer

Matot-Mas-ei
Saturday, August 3

My favorite thing about being Jewish is learning a different language, the culture and the food. I also like how we can ask questions about everything, like God, the stories in the Torah and more.

To become a Bat Mitzvah means that you are transitioning to adulthood.  That means more responsibilities, a little bit more freedom, and most of all, you get to choose about being Jewish. During Sheva, I liked learning about respecting people of different faiths and those who have different backgrounds.

My mitzvah project was making bags of food and dinner for the homeless at Room at the Inn.  We also cleaned up and made the beds after they left the JCC.  I choose to do this for my mitzvah project because it goes with my Torah portion, how we should help people who are in need or that are less fortunate than us. What I got out of my mitzvah project was that we forget about people who are less fortunate than us, and we take our own lives for granted.  For example, always wanting more of stuff. Even though we have all that we need, we still want more.  We still spend our money on things that we don’t even need.  We need to really think about how we should use our money and make wise decisions about how we are or what we are spending it on.

After my Bat Mitzvah, I plan to still go to Friday night services and learn more about our culture, and what we believe in.  I’m going to celebrate the holidays and have a Shabbat dinner sometimes. I’m also going to Hebrew High next year and I plan on being a madricha in the Religious School.

Emily is the daughter of Eric and Tracey Lederer.  She is the sister of Mia Lederer.  She is the grandaughter of Dale Lederer of Charlotte, Pam Murtland of Beech Mountain, NC and Martin Lederer of San Diego, CA.  Send notes of mazal tov.

Mia Lederer

Matot-Mas-ei
Saturday, August 3

My favorite things about being Jewish are the holidays, food and the culture. I love celebrating the holidays because it is a happy time of year to get together with friends and family. I also enjoy the food! My favorite is matzo ball soup and I could eat it for all of my meals! It is fun for me to learn about new cultures of other places, but even more important to learn more about Judaism.

To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means I am more independent. When you are younger your parents do a lot for you but becoming a Bat Mitzvah means taking a large step towards adulthood. It also means you can continue more advanced Jewish education, and experience more outside your comfort zone.

Sheva and my preparation for my Bat Mitzvah has taught me a lot about myself as a Jewish person. Through Sheva I have learned about different ways I portray myself. I learned that there are different “faces” of each person. This means that what you see on the outside may not be the same person on the inside. We learned about how to be confident about our identity and being Jewish.

One of my mitzvah projects was bringing food to the homeless. I decorated, and packed food bags for people staying at Room at the Inn and cleaned up after their stay. I chose this because I think it is important that everyone on this Earth should have a home. It is unfair to me that we are destroying trees to build houses, but there are too many houses and not enough people in them. I understand the struggle of the people I visited went through, and it is sad to think that some people have to go through this. I want to continue doing things like this and giving people hope for a better future.  I also had a wonderful time spending Shabbat with the Jewish seniors at Sunrise Assisted Living.

I would like to continue my Jewish education. I plan on going to Hebrew High next year, being a madricha, and maybe soon I’ll get to travel to Israel.

Mia is the daughter of Eric and Tracey Lederer.  She is the sister of Emily Lederer.  She is the grandaughter of Dale Lederer of Charlotte, Pam Murtland of Beech Mountain, NC and Martin Lederer of San Diego, CA.  Send notes of mazal tov.

July 2019

Dylan Effren

Pinchas
Saturday, July 27

My favorite thing about being Jewish is learning how our ancestors kept our religion alive and how they helped us get to be here today. I also love how we celebrate the holidays with all my family, and of course delicious food. But most of all, I love how being Jewish is all about passing traditions down from one generation to another. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I am becoming a Jewish adult. I now have responsibilities to my faith and my community.

For my mitzvah project I am going to be working with an organization called Sandbox. It’s an organization where I volunteer my time to help out families that have children with severe illnesses. I chose the Sandbox because I have seen first-hand what this organization does to help those in need. They have come out several times to my neighbor’s house to work on their house, (painting, yard work, etc.) while they were in Philadelphia with their daughter who right now is at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). As I get older, I plan to keep Judaism close to me by attending services, celebrating Shabbat and the other Jewish holidays. I also plan to become a member of AZA.

Dylan is the son of David and Ruthanne Effren. He is the brother of Joey Effren. He is the grandson of Donald and Shiffie Effren, Yvonne Amato and Cheryl Effren, all of whom live in the Charlotte area! Send notes of mazal tov.

June 2019

Alexander Sherman

Sh'lach L'cha
Saturday, June 29

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating Chanukah with all of my family and eating latkes. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means I am growing into a young adult. I learned that I can accomplish great things if I work hard.

For my mitzvah project I did several tasks. First, I worked on an Eagle Scout project at Weddington High School. Second, my family and I participated in mitzvah day at the Jewish cemetery. Lastly, I volunteered at the Jewish Family Services food pantry. They were all rewarding as I was able to help people in many different ways.

Now that I am a Bar Mitzvah, I plan on continuing to go to services and help my sister with her future Bat Mitzvah studies.

Alex is the son of Eric and Linda Sherman. He is the brother of Anna. He is the grandson of Jay and Sharen Sherman of Pawleys Island, SC and Ted and Florence Schaffer of Sandusky, OH.  Send notes of mazal tov.

Jaden Auslander

B'haalot'cha
Saturday, June 22

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being proud of our beautiful religion, culture, and heritage.  In my life, most of my friends aren’t Jewish, so when I talk about Jewish things, or invite them to Temple Beth El, it gives me a sense of uniqueness.  To further my Jewish life, I hope to attend Hebrew High through 12th grade.  As I continue to go throughout my Jewish life, I hope to join a Jewish fraternity in college, and teach my children when I become an adult.

My Bar Mitzvah project was Everybody Counts for Disability Awareness, a program that allows people to experience what it is like to have fine or gross motor impairments.  I chose this because it seemed like a great way to advocate for disabilities.  I learned that experiencing someone else’s reality can be a very powerful and educational experience.

To me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that you have become a Jewish adult.  You become mature and are seen as an adult in the eyes of the temple.  You are held to higher standards, and are expected to behave maturely.   When I entered Sheva, I realized that it connects to modern life.  I have enjoyed my year as a Sheva student and have discovered a newfound love of Jewish learning.

Jaden Auslander is the son of Dan and Jessica Auslander. He is the brother of Lillie and Nicholas.  He is the grandson of Robin and Cal Levy who live in Waxhaw NC, and Eta and Randy Auslander who live in Toledo, OH.  Send notes of mazal tov.

Luis Yaquian

Naso
Saturday, June 15

My favorite thing about being Jewish is eating falafel, especially the pita bread. I also like Israeli salad – tomatoes and cucumbers, plain and simple. I also like going to Temple because there are lots of fun activities to do here, like services, and Mitzvah Day, and hanging out with friends at NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) events. For me, becoming a bar mitzvah means being invited to be treated like an adult in the Jewish community. So far, this seems to mean helping out more often and going to lots of meetings.

In preparing for my bar mitzvah, I learned how important it is to practice and to do everything on time, which is something I have been working on recently. For my mitzvah project, I am working with the elderly – I think they’re cool and fun to hang out with. Once I become a bar mitzvah, I will stay involved with the Jewish community through NFTY, maybe BBYO, and by attending Hebrew High.

Jack Stein

Naso
Saturday, June 15 in Israel

I think my favorite part of being Jewish has to be the celebrations with friends and family, and well, um, the food (I could go on all day about the wonders of latkes and matzo ball soup!) Also, I it feels cool to be able to stand out and teach other kids about my religion as well. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah for me is kind of that first event that tells you that you are growing up. My Mitzvah Project will be volunteering at the Freedom School, however that will be July, so I can’t tell you about it yet. I do plan on continuing my Judaism as an adult by attending Hebrew High next year!

Jack Stein is the son of Eric and Laura Stein. He is the brother of Scott Stein, and the human owner of Shadow the dog. He is the grandson of Steven and Karen (who will be joining him in Israel for his Bar Mitzvah!) of New Jersey. Unfortunately, his other grandparents, Richard and Patricia, are not with us anymore to be able to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Sophie Frank

Naso
Saturday, June 15 in Israel

My favorite part about being Jewish is the family, traditions, and food! My family makes me proud of being Jewish. I also love our traditions – all the way from singing HaMotzi at camp before we eat to singing the Shema right before bed. Also of course, food. Nothing makes me happier than mom’s haroset and my dad’s matzo ball soup for Passover and my dad’s famous dreidel cake every Chanukah! There are so many memories it’s hard to keep track. I just know that I am proud of being Jewish and want to keep our traditions as I grow up!

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I just finished a big step in Judaism and I still have much more to learn and experience as I grow older. I have learned that anything you persevere through, you can do. Also I have learned to always be proud and never forget who I am. Just like my dad always says “Be kind, be smart, be Jewish!”

During Sheva next year I will focus on my Mitzvah project. I want to help children through an organization called Friendship Circle. The organization interacts with children with special needs. One of my favorite things is to make someone smile/laugh and brighten their day. I can’t wait to try out this project!

Through the rest of my journey as a Jew I will (of course) keep going to Jewish summer camp, participating in Shabbat services, and keeping our traditions.

Sophie is the daughter of Alain Frank and Audrey Afflerbach. She is the sister of Clara Frank. She is the granddaughter of Hugo Frank of Bodio, Switzerland and Cristina Bordoli-Tau of Zug, Switzerland and of Robert and Regina Afflerbach of Lynchburg, VA. Send notes of mazel tov.

Madison DeSantis

B'chukotai
Saturday, June 1

I love being Jewish because of all the holidays we celebrate.  Chanukah is my favorite because I love singing the blessings when we light candles, eating latkes and playing dreidel with my brother.  Becoming a Bat Mitzvah is important to me because I am giving back to God all of the things he has given me.  As I’ve studied for this day I’ve learned that I am a lot better at Hebrew than I thought I was because it’s always been hard for me.  I also discovered that I know a lot more prayers than I thought I did.  Finding this out made me super happy because it made me feel more confident about being able to prepare more easily.

For my Mitzvah project I volunteered at the Sunrise assisted living center.  I chose this because not all of the older people get visitors so I wanted to make their days happier.  We played Othello, went on walks and planted some flowers.  I really liked doing this because they had a really good time and they liked the vibrant colored flowers that I brought with me.  Now that I am becoming a Bat Mitzvah I plan to continue coming to Temple on Friday nights and Saturday mornings as much as I can.  I’m going to bring some of my friends because they are interested in learning about Judaism and services are a lot of fun.

Madison DeSantis is the daughter of Adam and Susan Desantis.  She is the sister of Matthew DeSantis, the stepsister of Josh Miller, Brady Miller, Chris Miller and Chelsea Brown and the stepdaughter of Heather DeSantis.  She is the granddaughter of Ruth Katz of Long Island NY and Herb and Bonnie Katz of Scarsdale NY.  Send notes of mazel tov.

May 2019

Nina Solar

B'har
Saturday, May 25

My favorite part about being Jewish is the family, friends, and food! During the Jewish holidays my family gets together and I have so much fun with them and they make me proud of being Jewish. I have met so many friends through Sheva and even when I was tiny at CJP. I have tons of great memories! I also love the food! Being Jewish means you get to feast on things like latkes, challah, and hamantashen!

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I have embraced Jewish traditions and plan to continue to learn more. In Sheva and in the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah I learned that I should be proud of my Judaism.

For my mitzvah project, I cheered special needs kids on before their performance with Playing For Others. I also spent some time clearing brush and picking up trash with the Parks and Rec Department at Colonel Beatty Park. My favorite part of my mitzvah project was collecting board books and presenting them to a wonderful girl named Lila, who has some medical complications. Seeing how happy she was to receive all the new books made me feel good. As I become a Jewish adult, I want to take on more responsibility in the Jewish community and pass on all the good food and traditions to my future family!

Nina is the daughter of David and Sara Solar. She is the sister of Aaron Solar. She is the granddaughter of Vicki Hopkins of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Send notes of mazel tov.

Toryn Nichols

Parashat Emor
Saturday, May 18

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the food. On different holidays we have different foods. For example, on Passover, we have matzo ball soup, charoset, and grape juice, and for Chanukah we have gelt, latkes, and so much more. To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means starting a new journey and making my own decisions involving Judaism and the way I choose to express it in my life. In preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I learned that I know more about Judaism than I thought.

My mitzvah project was helping out with children and teens with mental disabilities through an organization called Friendship Circle. I chose this organization because I love children, and I had never worked with children with disabilities. We did many different activities like performing improv at the Acting Out studio and making pottery at the Charlotte Jewish Preschool. I learned about different mental disabilities including autism and Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome. We talked about the differences in the disabilities, and how people may act differently when triggered. I enjoyed this project a lot because we really got to interact with the teens and do fun activities with them.

Throughout my journey as a Jewish adult, I will continue to go to Jewish summer camp, and I will also work as a madricha in the religious school to help other kids learn about Judaism.

Toryn is the daughter of Matthew Nichols and Katrina Burton Nichols. She is the sister of Kaya and Liya. She is the granddaughter of Eve and Nick Nichols of Lexington, MA, and Katherine and Howard Burton of Brooklyn, NY. Send notes of mazel tov.

Rose Smolowitz

Parashat Emor
Saturday, May 18

My favorite thing about being Jewish are our traditions. I love singing the HaMotzi before dinner and how all my friends now know all the words. I love looking forward to Shabbat after a bad week. I love being able to light the candles and just relax. I love getting to teach people who aren’t Jewish about our holidays and culture. The literal meaning of becoming a Bat Mitzvah is “daughter of the commandments.” What I think that really means is that we are Jewish adults. We are given more responsibilities but we are also given more privileges. It means that we are God’s helpers. I feel like the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah makes me feel more connected with God.

Preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I learned more about our prayers and the reasoning behind our rituals and traditions. Besides that, I also learned that anything that we set our minds to, we can do. When I first looked at some of the prayers, they looked crazy. I thought I’d never learn them! But after I broke them down into small pieces and listened to the tape many times, I was able to master them. Now I know that’s what I can do anytime I am faced with a hard challenge in life.

For my Mitzvah project, every Sunday I have been running a Bingo game for the seniors at Sharon Towers. I work with the memory care unit, so they don’t always remember the last time I was there — or how to play Bingo! — but they always have fun and I love seeing their smiles. I’m still doing it even though I finished all my hours because I love seeing how much it brightens their day and honestly, it brightens mine too.

As I get older, I plan to keep learning and practicing Jewish traditions (especially Shabbat with my family.) I am also going to continue my Jewish education by going to Hebrew High, where I can hang out with all of my Jewish friends and take cool classes. Lastly, I’m going to continue going to NIFTY events and embracing my Jewish self.

Rosie is the daughter of Pete and Michelle Smolowitz. She is the sister of Stella and Ben Smolowitz. She is the grandchild of Ira and Judy Smolowitz of Longmeadow, MA and Richard and Jean Crouch of Sarasota, FL. Send notes of mazel tov.

Mikah Amo

Parashat Acharei Mot
Saturday, May 4

My favorite things about being Jewish are the traditions like eating doughnuts on Hanukkah, dipping apples in honey, and the idea of doing Mitzvot. I also like all of my Jewish friends. Overall to me, Judaism just means keeping traditions alive, eating good foods and being a good person. I definitely love all of those things!

Being Jewish also teaches me that you have to persevere when things get tough. Being Jewish isn’t always easy. There are a lot kids and adults that there that are anti-Semitic. So, I have to make sure that I stand strong, and be the better person. Also, I have to teach people about our religion and culture so they know we are just like everyone else.

I learned a lot about myself in Sheva. Preparing for this day was tough and a lot of extra hard work, but, I now know when I put my mind to something I can do it.

Mitzvah Project: I was a volunteer in the Take on Sports baseball teams. I helped a girl with special needs play baseball and have fun. When she was up to bat I would help her swing, and show her how to run around the bases. When our team was out in the field, I would teach her how to catch a ball and where to throw it when trying to get an out. This is my second year working with Take on Sports. I really love working with my friend and helping her out. She and I have created a relationship that makes playing baseball fun. I feel like I get to help her do something that she enjoys. She deserves to play baseball the way any other child would. I hope to continue doing this until I go to college.

I will continue my Jewish journey by going to Temple on the High Holy Days, observing all of the holidays with my family, continue to volunteer my time helping kids with physical challenges play baseball, and will always work to be a better person. Also, I might look into joining BBYO, and Jewish fraternity when I get to college.

Mikah is the son of Anthony and Brooke Amo. He is the brother of Lucy and Nora Amo. He is the grandson of Barbara and Steve Frank of Hilton Head, SC and Penny and Louie Amo of Rome, NY. Send notes of mazel tov.

Allison Repella

Parashat Acharei Mot
Saturday, May 4

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating holidays (like Hanukkah, Purim and Passover) with friends and family. I especially like all the great food like challah, matzah ball soup and hamantaschen. I love the community here at Temple Beth El as well as the JCC. I have made a lot of friends at both places, at Hebrew school, at Camp Mindy and the JCC swim team.

To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I can now participate more. I have learned so much about all the prayers and can now understand more of what is going on in services.

My Mitzvah project was working in the community garden at the JCC. Every Wednesday over the summer I watered all the plants, picked a lot of weeds, and harvested many pounds of produce that was donated to the pantry at Jewish Family Services. I loved watching all of the hard work I did in maintaining the garden help to feed people in need. I plan on continuing volunteering in the garden again this coming summer.

In Sheva, I have learned about more of the background of being Jewish. I now have a better understanding of our traditions and where they came from. After my Bat Mitzvah I will continue to go to services and celebrate all the Jewish holidays

Allison is the daughter of Steven and Amy Repella.  She is the sister of Ben.  She is the granddaughter of Israel and Elaine Miller of Clearwater FL and Bridget Repella of Milford MA.

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.