B’nei Mitzvah Archive

August 2018

Emma Eccleston

Parashat R'eih
Saturday, August 11

My favorite thing about being Jewish is being able to meet other people who are Jewish and making Jewish friends. I get to make these Jewish friends at Temple and Hebrew school. I’m glad to become a Bat Mitzvah because it means I will have more responsibilities and I will be able to do more in the world because I am a Jewish adult. What I have learned about myself in preparing for my Bat Mitzvah is that if I work hard and study I can learn how to read from the Torah.

For my mitzvah project I held a drive and collected items for the homeless. I raised money and bought even more items. I put toiletries, clothes, hats, umbrellas, ponchos, and tissues in bags and brought them to a homeless shelter. I chose to do this because I think it’s important to help people who don’t have everything they need. It made me feel happy because I got the chance to help people and I have always wanted to do that. To keep learning about Judaism and living with Judaism I will go to Hebrew High and be involved with youth group events. I am also going to be a B’nei Mitzvah tutor.

Emma is the daughter of Randi and Jon Eccleston. She is the sister of Hannah Eccleston. She is the granddaughter of Vicki and Irwin Smolin of Charlotte, NC and Georgiann Eccleston of Glenburn, PA and the late Jon W. Eccleston. Send messages of congratulations.

Abbie Jackowitz

Parashat R'eih
Saturday, August 11

There are many things that come with being Jewish. One of my favorites is the tradition of lighting the candles on a Chanukiah during Chanukah. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah has many meanings to me.  One of these meanings is continuing to immerse myself in Jewish culture. I will continue learning about Judaism by going to Jewish summer camps, services, giving tzedakah out of my own money, and participating in youth groups. Throughout my journey of becoming a Bat Mitzvah I have learned that I really enjoy going to Sheva and Friday night services and learning new prayers and traditions that I can use throughout my life.

For my Mitzvah project I have the honor and the privilege of working with special needs students at my school. There’s nothing I love more than playing games, talking, and having lunch with them; because in the end they’re no different than any of us and because of this my Mitzvah project is something that I will continue to take part in forever.

Abbie is the daughter of Ilene and Jason Jackowitz. She is the sister of Jared. She is the granddaughter of Bob Jackowitz of Levittown, New York and Joan Bram of West Palm Beach, Florida. She feels blessed that everyone is here today. Send notes of Mazel Tov.

Amanda Buckler

Parashat Eikev
Saturday, August 4

My favorite thing about being Jewish is having the opportunity to surround myself with other Jewish kids and adults that all share a common knowledge about this religion. All Jews are one big community that share the same traditions and beliefs. To me, becoming a bat mitzvah means that I have more responsibilities and the right to make more and more of my own decisions. During Sheva and tutoring, I have learned more about my religion, and how I fit into it.

My mitzvah project was helping out with The Friendship Circle, where kids and adults with special needs get to make friends and have fun. I also volunteered during Mitzvah Day, where we packed up bags full of little toys and books that all goes to Sterling Elementary School to kids for the summer. Lastly, I volunteered with the Carolina Thread Trail Association to raise money for environmental preservation and trail maintenance. Now that I have become a Bat Mitzvah, and a Jewish adult, I plan to keep my Jewish education alive by tutoring other kids for their bar or bat mitzvah, and continuing to learn by participating in either Hebrew High or BBYO.

Amanda Buckler is the daughter of Bryan and Robin Buckler. She is the sister of Adam and Sophie Buckler. She is the granddaughter of Linda Buckler of Chattanooga TN and Amy and Peter Brenner of Greensville, SC. Send notes of mazel tov.

July 2018

Garrett Waldman

Parashat Va-et'chanan
Saturday, July 28

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating all of the holidays with my family and friends and learning new things about my religion. For me, becoming a bar mitzvah means taking on more responsibility for things and becoming a man according to Jewish law.

Throughout this process, I’ve learned that I had to take responsibility for preparing for my bar mitzvah and studying the torah portion, because if I didn’t, no one else could do it for me.

For my mitzvah project, I weeded. In removing weeds, I made room for the desired plants, trees, and grass to grow.

Now that I am a bar mitzvah, I will continue to go to services and celebrate each holiday.

Tyler Waldman

Parashat Va-et'chanan
Saturday, July 28

My favorite things about being Jewish are the holidays and history. I enjoy the holidays because they have history, and I like coming together with community to celebrate holidays and pray to God. We have had to overcome a lot of challenges throughout the centuries and we are one of the oldest religions to make it this far. For me, becoming a bar mitzvah means to become a Jewish man and make sure I follow the customs and be an example for younger people.

In Sheva we talked a lot about history and customs, and prayed a lot together, which gave me time to spend in community with my peers.

For my mitzvah project, I went to a soup kitchen in Uptown Charlotte where they feed the homeless every Tuesday and Friday. My mom and I went to the soup kitchen to pass out food and box up food to give to people to take with them. It felt good to help people out and to see how thankful they were.

Now that I am a Jewish adult, I will continue to practice my Judaism with my parents, and one day with my own family.

Violet Goldberg

Parashat D'varim
Saturday, July 21

My favorite thing about being Jewish is our religion’s emphasis on doing good for our world. Our belief in Tikkun Olam not only means repairing the physical world, but also means standing up for others and for social justice.

When preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I had to interact with a lot of people I didn’t know before. I learned that the best way for me to be comfortable around people I don’t know very well is to be okay with myself, to feel that my opinions matter, and that it’s okay to share them when I need to.

For my mitzvah project, I worked at Frank Liske Park, removing non-native species of plants to make the park prettier and to promote the growth of native plants. I also volunteered to clean up the outside of a house owned by a local church used for community events and programs. My volunteering helped to make the work easier for the staff at the park and the church, and made those places more enjoyable for the people who visit there.

Now that I am a Jewish adult, I plan to continue to attend services and participate in Jewish traditions with my family. I want to travel to Israel and learn about the people that live there and my Jewish heritage. Also, I will help my little sister Rosie when she starts to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah.

Violet is the daughter of Ross and Deanne Goldberg. She is the sister of Rosie Goldberg. Her grandparents are Marc and Suzie Goldberg of Durham, NC, JoAnn Mixson of Concord, NC, and Jim and Lori Mixson of Great Meadows, NJ. Send messages of Mazel Tovs.

Maeli Zhiss

Parashat D'varim
Saturday, July 21

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays with my family and the eating special foods. I LOVE potato latkas with applesauce, hamantaschen, and matzah ball soup! I am proud of being Jewish because I am part of a community and it also makes me feel unique in places where I am one of the only Jews. By completing my Bat Mitzvah, I am considered an adult in the Jewish community. As a Jewish adult, I think I would be most interested in being involved in social justice or community service projects. I have been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and love being involved in things that help others because it makes me feel good that I have helped someone.

For my Mitzvah Project I tried out two different places so I could experience the type of programs that are out there. I spent time with senior citizens at the JCC Oasis group by serving them meals, helping with an exercise class, setting up activities, and just talking with them. I also spent time in the classroom for special needs middle school kids at my school (SAC kids) and discovered how much I enjoyed spending time with them and helping them raise money for their sister classroom in Africa. For my birthday, I celebrated with the SAC kids (my new friends) and brought a few of my other friends along to share cupcakes and conversation. Some kids were afraid of the SAC kids because they were different, but by bringing them together over food to celebrate, it broke the ice for them to meet and get to know them like I do.

Maeli is the daughter of Ron and Melissa Zhiss and sister to Parker Zhiss. She is the granddaughter of Gene and Geri Zhiss and Art and Jane Hayes of Decatur, Michigan. Send messages of Mazel Tovs.

Jason Rizzo

Parashat Matot-Mas'ei
Saturday, July 14

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating holidays with my family and friends. To me, becoming a bar mitzvah means becoming a part of the Jewish community and participating in many Jewish activities. During my bar mitzvah preparation, I learned that I enjoy chanting Hebrew.

My mitzvah project was helping low-income kids with their reading. I did this with two great organizations: Our Little Library, a program of the Charlotte Charity League that takes place at a community center off South Boulevard, and at the Shalom Park Freedom School. I chose this as my project because I really enjoy reading and want others to be able to enjoy it, too. I realized that people are less fortunate than me and that it felt really good to help them. As a Jewish adult, I will continue to celebrate the holidays with my family. I want to learn how to make all the holiday foods that we eat.

Jason is the son of Julie and Scott Rizzo. He is the brother of Brendan Rizzo. His grandparents are Sam and Barbara Goldberg of Charlotte, NC; Adria and Stephen August of Glenbrook, NV; Helen Rizzo of Hilton Head, SC; and Beth and Joe Rizzo of East Falmouth, MA. Send words of congratulations to Jason.

Rebekah Shore

Parashat Pinchas
Saturday, July 7

My favorite part about being Jewish is the sense of community that I feel when I’m at Temple. To become a bat mitzvah, for me, means that I’m going to be a bigger part of the Jewish community and be able to make a bigger change in the world. Something that I’ve learned about myself going through the Sheva program is that when you form a relationship with the people in your class, you hear lots of different opinions and you’re able to be yourself.

For my mitzvah project, I taught kids how to ride a horse and went to Time Out Youth and made dinner. Time Out Youth is an organization for kids that are anywhere from eleven to twenty four who are LGBTQ plus or are supportive of LGBTQ. My friends and I went and made them dinner and got to know some of the kids there and what they do at Time Out Youth. I chose to go to T.O.Y because I think that people are just people and I wanted to help out some people that aren’t treated by society fairly and to show them that there are people in their side. I got to learn about what some of the kids have gone through, being kicked out of their house for some, and how they were able to build relationships. When I was teaching horseback riding, I learned patience and how to be a good leader for those watching me.

I plan to maintain a sense of community with my Jewish family even after I become a bat mitzvah. I plan to do this by teaching at the religious school and possibly by being a Torah tutor so that I can help future bar and bat mitzvahs.

Adam Simpson

Parashat Pinchas
Saturday, July 7

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating unique holidays and traditions. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something different and I’m more unique than the rest of the world. It is also a nice time to hang out with my family and eat all different food. Being a Bar Mitzvah means to me that I have been given responsibility and am now looked upon as an adult and not a kid. I have learned during my time preparing for my Bar Mitzvah that I don’t have to be hard on myself all the time, because if you want to accomplish something you need motivation not demotion.

My mitzvah project was working at a food pantry at Crisis Assistance Organization with my grandparents and volunteering to hang out with AIDS patients at Holy Angels. I chose this because I wanted to help people who are less fortunate than I am and help them with anything they needed. I was very happy I was a part of this and got to bond with my grandparents while doing so. This taught me that I have a very fortunate life and should be grateful for everything that my parents have done for me.

Now that I am finally a Jewish adult, I plan to keep on going to services and reading prayers as well as keeping up with the traditions and hopefully spreading it through my community.

Adam is the son of Jennifer and Mark Simpson. He is the brother of Carolyn Simpson. He is the grandson of Myron and Lynn Slutsky of Gastonia, NC, and Harry and Lois Simpson of Rockville, MD. Send messages of Mazel Tov to Adam.

June 2018

Mason Kendrick

Parashat Balak
Saturday, June 30

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating all the holidays with my family. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I become more responsible for my actions in the Jewish community and in everyday life. In preparing to become a bar mitzvah, I learned that you need to work hard to get something done.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered for Katie’s Kids, The Butterfly Project, and Run for The Ridge. I also helped my peers with a running class, band 5th grade signups and Mitzvah Day. I chose these things because I enjoyed helping out for the causes and I have a true passion for cross country and running. I learned that it is good to help the community. As a Jewish adult, I will plan on continuing to celebrate the holidays with my family.

Mason is the son of Greg and Lisa Kendrick. He is the brother of Claire Kendrick. He is the grandson of Patty and Bruce Feerer of San Diego, California and Janice and Terry Kendrick of Monroe, New York. Send words of mazel tov to Mason.

Sam Salam

Parashat Balak
Saturday, June 30

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that I’m not in the majority. I stand out and I like that.  It’s fun to be unique.

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means to me that I’m accountable for my actions. I have to take ownership and make the right decisions without my parents’ help. What I learned when preparing for my Bar Mitzvah is that the Charlotte Jewish Day School prepared me very well for this moment.

I will focus on my Mitzvah Project this summer, because we have recently been busy with moving back to Charlotte from Seattle. I plan to keep learning about Judaism by attending services. I’m going to consider attending Hebrew High and becoming a madrich and tutor. I will also continue to celebrate each holiday so that I don’t forget my religion and culture.

Sam is the son of Heather and Scott Salam. He has two siblings, Noah and Evie. His grandparents are Dianne Salam of Fort Mill, SC; Bill and Leslie Salam of Georgetown, TX; and Glenn and Arlene Kerns of Charlotte, NC. Send notes of congratulations to Sam.

Alexander Carmichael

Parashat Chukat
Saturday, June 23

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays with my family. It is special to carry on the traditions that Jewish people have been celebrating for centuries. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah is important to me because it means that I am taking on more responsibilities and is a big milestone to lead the congregation in prayer. It has taken a great deal of work to become a Bar Mitzvah and this taught me that I can achieve whatever goals I want to accomplish. Also, in Sheva, I have learned how I can lead a Jewish life and that is important to me.

I did a few different activities for my mitzvah project. First, I sang to the elderly in nursing homes. I was really surprised how happy it made the residents feel to have me sing for them. I really enjoyed making them smile. My second activity was preparing meals for the hungry people in Guatemala through Servants with a Heart. I was shocked how just a little bit of the right amount of food could provide nutritious meals for so many people. My last project was preparing and serving a meal to the people staying at the Hospitality House of Charlotte. It felt really nice to help people whose loved ones are in the hospital. I can’t imagine how stressful that must be for them and I was happy to help prepare a home cooked meal for them.

I plan to continue living a Jewish life by continuing to attend services and celebrate holidays with my family. Being Jewish is important to me and I plan to carry on the traditions with my own family one day.

Alex is the son of Melissa Coates and Chad Carmichael. He is the brother of Sabrina Carmichael. He is the grandson of Judy and Richard Coates of Waxhaw, NC and James Carmichael z”l and Shirley Carmichael z”l. Send notes of congratulations.

Nina Geller

Parashat Chukat
Saturday, June 23 in Israel

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the opportunity to learn another language on the pathway to becoming a Jewish adult. A good knish on the streets of New York is also a delicious part of being Jewish. I love the shared experience of a good Jewish meal and how it connects us as a culture and as a family.

To become a Bat Mitzvah means that I understand and accept my responsibilities as a Jewish adult. It is especially meaningful to me that I am becoming a Bat Mitzvah in Israel. Three years ago, I watched my brother, JD, become a Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem and it means so much to me to be following in his footsteps. The path to becoming a Bat Mitzvah has been a long one. Though I was overwhelmed at the start, with the help of my tutors I gained confidence and now I feel fully prepared for my Bat Mitzvah. I particularly want to thank Cantor Mary and Rabbi Klass for their time and patience.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered to help at Brookdale Senior Living Center. By working there, I aided my Bubbe Elaine, who also lives at the center. I always think that the Bubbes and Zadies there are so adorable, and I enjoy spending time with them. The best part was putting a smile on my Bubbe’s face whenever I came into Brookdale. Since I am now a Jewish adult, I plan to continue living with Judaism throughout my life and carrying on the Jewish traditions in my future family.

Nina is the daughter of Daniela and Harley Geller of Charlotte, NC and the sister to Joseph. Nina is also the granddaughter of Elaine Geller of Charlotte, NC and the granddaughter to Rina and Antonino Russo of San Diego, CA. Send Nina notes of mazel tov.

Rachel Potier

Parashat Chukat
Saturday, June 23 in Israel

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all of the friends I’ve made and all of the experiences. I met my best friend at the Jewish preschool, and I’ve also made many other special friends through Hebrew school. I enjoy spending time with them, because we share something so great in common, being Jewish. I also love all the experiences such as Bat Mitzvah services/parties, and many of the fun holidays. To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means “graduating” into Jewish adulthood. This process has made me more responsible and mature, by having to practice my prayers every day, even when sometimes I don’t really want to. I have learned that I can succeed at anything I want to as long as I put my full effort into it.

For my mitzvah project, I took my dog, Sadie to a nursing home/assisted living facility. There, we walked from room to room, allowing for seniors to meet and pet my dog. I chose to do this project, because my dog is so special and makes me so happy, therefore, I wanted to spread the love to people who truly needed it. It was amazing seeing the smiles from the seniors, and seeing the great joy that Sadie brought them. A few days after, I got an email from the nursing home stating that they had received a letter from a nurse saying that “they noticed a remarkable difference in one of the male residents while having a visit with Sadie”. This made me beyond ecstatic, because I had now known that meeting Sadie brought great joy and change in personality to a man that greeted her. In the future, I will keep learning about Judaism through attending services and events at the temple. I will also continue on with BBYO where I hope to learn and grow as a Jewish adult.

Noah Black

Parashat Korach
Saturday, June 16

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating holidays like Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover.  During these times, my family gets together and makes special memories and carries on the traditions of my relatives before me.  To become a Bar Mitzvah means that I am growing up and having more responsibilities in the Jewish religion.  I will be treated more like an adult and will be expected to take ownership of how I practice and celebrate Judaism.  In preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, I have learned that there is so much meaning behind the prayers that I have been studying.  Although these prayers were written hundreds of years ago, they are still very relatable and have special meaning even today.

My mitzvah project focused on helping those in need, including collecting and making care packages of clothes, food and toys for the needy.  I chose this because I wanted to help people who are less fortunate than I am.  I am very thankful for the things that I have that others do not.  Although I am now a Bar Mitzvah, I know that my learning does not stop here.  I will continue to attend services at temple and serve as a role model for my brother as he prepares for his Bar Mitzvah.

Noah is the son of Leslee and Matt and the brother of Carter, the grandson of Paul and Lynette Diener of Raleigh, NC, Rona Black of Philadelphia, PA and Steve and Francee Black of Delray Beach, FL.  Messages of congratulations can be sent to his parents.

Lauren Loss

Parashat Korach
Saturday, June 16

I am becoming a Bat Mitzvah because it is Jewish tradition. I have been going to Hebrew school since the 3rd grade. I started out when I lived in Florida and when I moved to Charlotte in 2013, my family joined Temple Beth El and I started to attend Hebrew school here. Everyone in my family has become a B’nei Mitzvah so far. In the Fall, I plan on attending Hebrew High as well as continuing my Jewish Education.

For my mitzvah project, I was fortunate to do a couple of different things. First, I was able to lend my time to the South Charlotte Dog Rescue. It was so much fun to hang out with the dogs and make sure they go to the right “furever” homes. I also had the ability to help out with and organization called Bright Blessings. They help underprivileged and homeless children celebrate their birthday that they otherwise would not have been able to do. I am planning on continuing to help with both of these throughout the summer as well as help to teach gymnastics to children involved with Special Olympics at my gymnastics club. I am lucky enough to be able to train for competitions and I want to help those who need a bit of extra help.

Lauren is the daughter of Becca and Bill Loss and sister of Rachael (15).  She is the granddaughter of Wendy and Arnold Rosenthal of Boynton Beach, FL and Linda and Bill Loss of Niagara Falls, NY. Send words of mazel tov.

Doron Gundersheim

Parashat Sh'lach L'cha
Saturday, June 9

One of my favorite things about being Jewish is all the amazing food. Another thing I love about being Jewish is celebrating holidays with friends and family. Becoming a bar mitzvah means that I grow out of the child phase of being Jewish and start looking at life in a whole different way. In preparing to become a bar mitzvah, I learned that working hard is important, and the process of becoming a bar mitzvah is kinda fun.

For my mitzvah project, I helped collect shoes for Second Harvest Food Bank to give to children in Africa and Asia. I liked doing this project because I got to see my friends more, and I helped a good cause. I will also be reading to children during Freedom School. Freedom School is a summer program for at-risk children. I keep planning to learn about Judaism by participating in BBYO next year, as well as going to services and celebrating holidays with my family.

Doron is the son of Susan Cherin Gundersheim and Stephen Gundersheim. He is the brother of Hannah and Rebecca Gundersheim. He is the grandson of Herbert Cherin z’’l and Carol Cherin of Charlotte NC, and Marilyn and Julius Gundersheim of Hadley, MA. Please send messages of Mazel Tov here.

Joseph Taras

Parashat Sh'lach L'cha
Saturday, June 9

My favorite thing about being Jewish is feeling like I can connect to other Jewish people without even speaking. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means to me that I learned what it takes to make something amazing happen. Through hard work, a lot of time and practice, I can do anything.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at the Crisis Assistance Ministry. I chose this project so I can help with the community of Charlotte. They help people with clothing and household stuff. It made me appreciate what I have that people don’t.  I have clothes, a nice home and other stuff people take for granted.

Joey is the son of Albert and Teri Taras. He is the brother of Samantha Taras. He is the grandson of Gail Adelman, z’’l and David Adelman of Aventura, Florida and Joseph and Ricki Taras of Rancho Mirage, CA.

Gabe Stein

Parashat B’haalot’cha
Saturday, June 2

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that we have a sense of community and caring that no other religion can compare to. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means to me that I have gained a sense of responsibility or ahrayut. I have learned that it takes small things to make something bigger and that everything starts small and starts with a spark.

My mitzvah project was working at the Carolinas Aviation Museum and volunteering to help instruct young aviation enthusiasts learn about airport design. I got teamwork and helpfulness out of the mitzvah project. As I will be a Jewish adult soon, I plan on continuing my education by going to services and reading prayers.

Gabe is the son of Robyn and Jonathan. He is the oldest brother of Anna, Callie, and Zach. He is the grandson of Rochelle Barr and Sanford Lakin of Detroit, MI, Gilbert Stein of Memphis, TN and Joanne Seblatnigg of Naples, FL. Send notes of mazel tov to Gabe.