B’nei Mitzvah Archive

July 2017

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

Charlie Lewin

Parashat Bemidbar
Saturday, May 27

Probably my favorite thing about being Jewish is challah. I always love waking up and making toast made of challah. To me, becoming a bar mitzvah means becoming mature – taking on more responsibilities and being capable of harder tasks. As I prepared for my bar mitzvah, I have learned a lot, including that learning new languages is not that hard.

I chose to volunteer at The Friendship Circle for my Mitzvah project. Friendship Circle is an organization that pairs special needs kids and other kids who have trouble making friend with volunteers their age. We meet on Sundays and we all do really fun activities and it is very enjoyable.
I do not go to temple much, and usually when I do it is either a High Holy Day or I am going to a bar mitzvah. I think as an adult, I won’t go every week, but the temple is still a very cool place to be and I will come more often.

Charlie is the son of Laura and Marc Lewin. He is the brother of Max and Kate Lewin. He is the grandson of Joseph and Carole Hankin of Jupiter, Florida, and Rachel Lewin of Toronto, Canada. Emails of mazel tov can be sent to lauralewin@aol.com.

Kaya Nichols

Parashat Behar/Bechukotai
Saturday, May 20

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being unique in my friend group. There are not that many Jewish people at my school, so we stand out, in a good way. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means so much more than being an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community. It means that I am willing to take on the responsibilities that I may be given.

In the process of preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I have really learned the importance of hard work. My mitzvah project was Friendship Trays – an organization that prepares and delivers food for people who can’t make it themselves. My partner Grayce took me with her one time and I really enjoyed the experience. The looks on people’s faces when we gave them the food was so fulfilling. I started to understand the importance of volunteering and just doing things for other people out of the goodness of your heart. I plan to keep learning about Judaism by continuing to go to Camp Coleman, and to be more active in my Jewish community.

Kaya Nichols is the daughter of Matthew and Katrina Nichols. She is the sister of Toryn and Liya Nichols. She is the granddaughter of Eve and Nick Nichols in Lexington, MA and Katherine and Howard Burton in Crown Heights, NY. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to: Kantankerous5@gmail.com

Grayce Sheinis

Parashat Behar/Bechukotai
Saturday, May 20

Becoming a bat mitzvah is a big deal and very important because I am now a Jewish adult. Being Jewish means I am different from other people. Most people at my school are Christian and it makes me feel unique. If I wasn’t Jewish, I wouldn’t have gone to a Jewish Day School and I wouldn’t have met probably half of the friends I have today, and friends are really important to me!

Becoming a bat mitzvah means that I am becoming a more mature person, both in general and specifically in relation to my Jewish community. I have learned in preparing for my bat mitzvah that I need to act like I have already become one. It takes a lot of work and commitment and in order to do that work and make that commitment I have to be more mature and responsible than I have had in the past.

For my mitzvah project, I went to Friendship Trays and packed and delivered meals to elderly people. I plan on to keep learning and living with Judaism by going to services. I like Rosh Hashana services because it feels different from the rest of the year and I learn something new each service. And, I like hearing the shofar! I also like the Anne Frank Museum and Israel.

Grayce is the daughter of Richard and Marcia Sheinis. She is the youngest of three, sister of Holly and Ben. She is the granddaughter of Jack Sheinis of Boca Raton, Florida and Grandma and Grandpa Hamming, who live in Holland. Notes of mazel tov can be emailed to: hlld4@bellsouth.net

Benjamin Blau

Parashat Acharei Mot/K'doshim
Saturday, May 6

My favorite things about being Jewish are all of the different things I have learned over the years. I like learning all of the different tunes for the prayers, and what the Torah portions are about. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means growing up – taking that next step up toward being an adult; it means trying to be more mature. Adults have more work to do in the world and more responsibilities. I’m not an adult yet, but taking this step helps move me toward that future.

I have learned that I know a decent amount, but I don’t know everything! Preparing for all of the components of my bar mitzvah has definitely been difficult, but I have made it through, which has also been a lesson in my ability to take on a hard task and complete it.

For my mitzvah project, I went to the Brookdale Senior Center with my friend Ethan to help the residents with their electronic needs. I like working with electronics and I help my parents with their electronics all the time, so I figured this would a way I could help others and have fun doing something I already like doing. My favorite part was helping them and learning about the different electronics they needed help with.

Ben Blau is the son of Barry and Lisa. He is the brother of Kate. He is the grandson of Evelyn Blau of New Jersey and Karen and Ron Noel of Fort Mill. Notes of Mazel Tov may be sent to Ben.

April 2017

Adam Lawrence

Parashat Sh'mini
Saturday, April 22

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the food. My family is Ashkenazic – which means that the Jewish food our family eats is Eastern European and is often fried. It’s delicious!

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means responsibility to me. I have increasing amounts of responsibilities as an emerging adult in the Jewish community. For me, this includes learning, Jewish living, and Jewish giving. In Sheva we learn about what it means to be Jewish and how that impacts our life. I have learned that we have appreciate where our Jewish heritage came from, the steps our ancestors took, and the values that I will need to have to ensure that Judaism continues to live and thrive.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at a Crisis Assistance. I chose Crisis Assistance because to help people less fortunate than me. I plan to enroll in Hebrew High, and become a madrich and tutor.

My mom’s name is Elizabeth and my dad’s name is Jared. I have a 15 year old sister named Alexandra. My mom’s parents live on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and my dad’s parents live in Randallstown, Maryland, which is a suburb of Baltimore.  Email words of mazel tov to ejlawrence76@gmail.com.

Lauren Schwartz

Parashat Vayikra
Saturday, April 1

I love being Jewish because I am able to live by the Torah. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I am officially an adult in the Jewish community and able to take on more responsibility. During this process, I became closer to my Jewish community and had so much fun while doing it. I also learned to be a self-starter and that I can accomplish any task.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at the Cyzner Institute, a school for children with disabilities. I chose to do this because I love kids and have a special place in my heart for these children. In my elementary school in Kansas City, students were mixed in with kids with disabilities. This was a really cool experience! My school here doesn’t have that, and I miss those relationships. I appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with kids with disabilities. It was really fun, and I enjoyed it so much I asked to volunteer another week!

Becoming a Jewish adult is a really big deal, and I know I will be given more responsibility now. I plan to keep studying Torah, keep living the Jewish life, including coming to services, and possibly become a Hebrew tutor.

Lauren is the daughter of Alexis and Chris Schwartz. She is the sister of Jacob Drew. She has three sets of grandparents, Darlene and Ed Wilson of Anderson IN, Mona and David Schwartz of Carmel IN, and Carole and Jerry Sternstein who live in Charlotte NC. Notes of Mazel Tov can be sent to leckiann@gmail.com and schwartz_lauren@icloud.com.

Zac Weintraub

Parashat Vayikra
Saturday, April 1

My favorite part of being Jewish is celebrating Shabbat. At URJ 6 Points Sports Camp, we got to celebrate Shabbat with lots of music – it was more about having fun and enjoying our time together and didn’t feel as formal as Shabbat sometimes feels.
For me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that physically and mentally I am becoming a Jewish man. It’s an honor to stand up on the bima and become a Jewish citizen – it’s a big deal, and I want to take it seriously. Throughout my preparation for this day, I have learned that in order to achieve something you can’t slack off. You have to put work into it in order to achieve your goal.

For my mitzvah project, I chose to work with Lil’ Hoopers, a program at the JCC that teaches little kids to play basketball. I like kids, and it is important to be an example for them because they look up to me.

Now that I am a Bar Mitzvah, I plan to continue to go to temple on High Holidays and to hopefully become a counselor at 6 Points.

Zac is the son of Jennifer Weintraub and Mark Weintraub. He is the brother of Jonah. He is the grandson of Trish and Art Hurvitz and Rena and Ron Weintraub. Notes of mazel tov can be sent to zack.weintraub@providenceday.org.

March 2017

Colby DeSalvo

Parashat Vayakheil/P’kudei
Saturday, March 25

What I enjoy most about being Jewish is that it introduces you to a complete, minority culture. There’s Hebrew as the language, Judaism as the religion, the country of Israel (which I hope to visit one day), holidays and traditions (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Purim & Hanukkah), special foods (hamantaschen & matzah ball soup) and clothing (kippot and tallit).

For my Bar Mitzvah, it means so much to me to become an adult member of the congregation. Thanks to my Hebrew tutoring, I am now an active participant during Shabbat services, and enjoy reciting the prayers in Hebrew along with the other adult congregants. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah has also helped me form a special bond with Pop-Pop, my Mom’s Father, as he has shared his Bar Mitzvah experience with me.  I have learned through Sheva that Judaism teaches us to be considerate of others, to respect peoples’ differences, and to always look for ways to help other people by doing good deeds or mitzvot.

For my mitzvah project, I have volunteered in a couple of different areas. I worked the popcorn stand at my sister’s elementary school for her Fall Festival. It was fun to make everyone happy with a hot bag of popcorn. I have also volunteered at Bright Blessings, an organization that serves homeless and impoverished children in the Charlotte area. I filled baby bags for homeless mothers with necessary items like bottles, formula, thermometers, baby wash & lotion, and a DVD on how to care for a baby; along with some comfort items like a warm blanket and a stuffed animal. I also delivered birthday items to a shelter so the homeless children could enjoy a real birthday party complete with gifts, a cake and party packs. It really feels good to volunteer and help other people and know that you are making their day brighter.
To keep learning about and living Judaism, I will continue volunteering, I will head to Hebrew High next year, continue to actively participate in Shabbat services and hopefully be a Hebrew tutor for other upcoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah students.

My parents are Kim Itkoff DeSalvo and Chris DeSalvo, and my sister is Rae Brooke DeSalvo. My Grandparents are Margo and Jerry Itkoff of Cincinnati, Ohio; Pat Cavelius and the late George Cavelius of Roswell, Georgia; and Joan and Frank DeSalvo of Redding, Connecticut. Please send Mazel Tovs to the following email addresses: kitkoff@aol.com (Mom); Christopher.desalvo@wellsfargo.com (Dad); moogjer@fuse.net (Itkoff grandparents).

Taylor Cheifetz

Parashat Ki Tissa
Saturday, March 18

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that I can always have a family and community to count on. To become a bat mitzvah to me means that I participate in a religious ceremony which makes me a daughter of the commandments. While preparing for my bat mitzvah I have learned that if I put in the work, I will succeed.

My mitzvah project involved preparing and going to an assisted living facility to spend time with some elderly women to make them happy. A friend of mine and I danced for them which they loved. One day we helped them make holiday cards for their family and friends and another day we decorated cookies with them. I chose to do my mitzvah project because I like to make people smile and I know many ladies there get lonely. I get a lot of joy out of helping and would love to go again. I plan to keep learning about Judaism even when I’m older. I can go to Friday and even Saturday services with my family. When I’m older, I will have kids and I will send them to Hebrew School and they will learn and hopefully share with me about what they learned.

Taylor is the daughter of Keri and Paul Cheifetz. She is the sister of Ryan Cheifetz and the granddaughter of Nancy and Gary Peters of Port Washington, NY, Wendy and Michael Schonfeld of Clover, SC, and Linda and Ira Cheifetz of Princeton Jct, NJ. Notes of Mazel Tov can be sent to taylorcheifetz@gmail.com.

Spencer Lipson

Parashat Ki Tissa
Saturday, March 18

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all of the friends I have made over the years in Jewish programming. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I am now a Jewish adult, and that I have more responsibilities. I have learned that patience is key in learning Hebrew and learning more about Judaism. Being patient and being responsible helped me decide that I wanted to be a mentor for kids newly diagnosed with Type I Diabetes as well as collect snacks for Camp Carolina Trails (CCT).

CCT is a summer camp for kids with Type I Diabetes. I chose this project along with mentoring kids new to diabetes because helping others with a disease that I have lets them know that life goes on and can still be wonderful. I have been successful in my own care and want others to know that they can do the same. I feel that my project has given me a great start to being a responsible Jewish adult. I will keep living Jewishly by celebrating the holidays with family and friends and by helping others.

Spencer B. Lipson is the only child of Jill and Marc Lipson. His maternal grandparents are Linda and Robert Brandt of Metairie, Louisiana. His paternal grandparents are Wendy and Martin Lipson of Potomac, Maryland. Please send all Mazel Tov emails to spencerbl2004@gmail.com.