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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday, March 23
My favorite part about being Jewish is the people/the community. People at Temple Beth El are very kind and generous. They will drop everything to help you if you need something, so don’t hesitate to ask! Becoming a bat mitzvah is very important – to me it is a big milestone in life because honestly, it takes a lot of work to become one. I worked for a long time to get here, and then you get to the day and then it’s over! But it is a very big part of life that I will remember forever.
During Sheva and in preparation for this moment, I learned just how much work it takes to become a bat mitzvah, and also that I am capable of doing that work. It took a lot of perseverance and persistence, and I learned that I am capable of both.
For my mitzvah project I worked with an organization called Hands On Charlotte. At first, I honestly didn’t know what to do for my mitzvah project, and then I found on Hands On Charlotte, which had a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. My favorite experience was going to White Oak Center, a senior home, and bringing my dog Cooper to let the seniors pet him. This experience taught me that when someone is having a bad day – or even a good one – you can always help them in some kind of way; it will make their day, even if it is a small gesture. Now that I am a bat mitzvah, I will continue to do community service and stay connected to the Jewish community by going to Sheva and coming to services.
Alexa Kirschner is the daughter of Steve Kirschner and Heidi Kirschner and the stepdaughter of Lisa Vogel. She is the sister of Marcus Kirscher, Ryan Vogel, Shayna Vogel, and Kyle Vogel. She is the granddaughter of Joan Kirschner of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jim Adelman of Palm Beach Gardens Florida, and Gunnel and Richard Greenhagen. Send notes of mazel tov.
Saturday, March 16
My favorite thing about being Jewish is standing out – it makes me feel unique. Plus, when you say “I’m Jewish,” people are really interested, and say “Tell me more,” so it’s also a conversation starter.
Becoming a bar mitzvah means I’m becoming more of an adult in the Jewish community – it doesn’t mean I all of a sudden make all of my decisions, but it does mean I get to think more about what it means to become my own person with my own choices on how to be a part of the Jewish community. In preparing for my bar mitzvah, one thing I learned about myself is that I like going to Shabbat services! The music is peaceful, and it’s nice to sit and relax for a few minutes. It takes my mind off of school, especially things like tests.
I love to cook, and so I am finding ways to cook for a good cause for my mitzvah project through organizations like Meals on Wheels and Ronald McDonald House. I plan to keep learning with Judaism and living with Judaism by going to Friday night services, keeping up with the major holidays – and maybe I’ll even learn to make challah myself!
Reece Newman is the son of Michael and Jennifer Newman. He is the brother of Sydnie and Tori Newman. He is the grandson of Ed and Jill Newman of Charlotte NC, and Gerald (and Joan, z’’l) Crane of New York. Send notes of mazel tov!
Saturday, March 2
My favorite thing about being Jewish is being able to celebrate holidays like Chanukah because it’s so long and fun, Purim because of the groggers, and Rosh Hashanah because of the apples and honey. To me, being a Bar Mitzvah means becoming an adult and having my opinion matter. In preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, I learned more of what the prayers mean in depth, which helped me understand our traditions better.
My mitzvah project was creating playlists of songs from the past (like Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, etc.) for the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living facility, along with donating a MP3 player and speakers. I chose this project because my Grandfather, William, suffered and passed away from Alzheimer’s and my Mom told me that even when he wasn’t himself, his favorite music always made him happy. Music seemed to be a way that he was able to recall happy memories from his past. I wanted others suffering from Alzheimer’s to have this gift as well.
After my Bar Mitzvah, I plan to keep learning about Judaism by continuing with Hebrew High, celebrating the holidays and being part of events at Temple.
Ryan is the son of Jody and Chris Para and the brother of Brynn and Wyatt. His grandparents are Cecile Waronker of Atlanta, GA and Jeanie Para & Wayne Simpson of Gainesville, GA. Send messages of Mazel Tov.
Saturday, February 16
My favorite thing about being Jewish is the community – that everyone helps each other and lifts each other up. As I have gone through the bat mitzvah process, including going to services and learning prayers, I have felt more and more a part of this community and able to participate in services. In preparing to become a bat mitzvah, I have learned that doing a little bit of work each day can add up and create something wonderful.
For my mitzvah project, I have been volunteering with the Charlotte Symphony Guild musical petting zoo, helping children of all ages and backgrounds learn to play brass instruments. As a French Horn player, I enjoyed seeing small children’s eyes light up when they first made a sound. As a Jewish adult, I will keep going to services and participating in this community.
Anneke is the daughter of Karen and Kevin Lewis. She is the sister of Saskia Lewis. She is the granddaughter of Dan and Linda Lewis of Seattle WA, Linda Lewis and Frank Arms of Corvallis OR, and Bob and Joyce Beck of Fort Worth TX. Send notes of Mazal Tov.
Saturday, February 16
My favorite thing about being Jewish is being different than everyone else. Throughout history, we have been enslaved and tormented for being Jewish and it is awesome to be able to practice my religion in peace. I am always happy to educate others about my religion and I have never been ashamed of being Jewish. To me, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I have passed the first stage of being a good Jew. Based on our Jewish traditions, we should assist our neighbors and always be happy to give a lending hand. I hope that the community service work that I did will help inspire me to do good in my community. During my preparation for becoming a Bar Mitzvah, I learned that I need to truly dedicate myself to tasks in order to not only accomplish them, but thrive.
For my mitzvah project, I was able to use my Spanish abilities to tutor a young boy that had difficulty reading. After spending time with him, his performance in the classroom drastically improved and I have developed a friendship with him and his wonderful family. I plan on continuing to tutor him and to serve as a mentor to him as he grows up. I learned that this mitzvah project was not just supposed to be just community service for 13 hours. It was supposed to teach us how to better our community and that is what I took away from it.
Jake is the son of Jason and Yami Siesel. He is the brother of Isabella Siesel. He is the grandson of Ernest and Pierrette Siesel of Boca Raton FL, Miriam Haber of Hialeah FL, and Pedro and Esther Haber of Miami, FL. Send notes of mazel tov.
Saturday, February 2
To be a Bat Mitzvah means to understand Judaism and prayer through a new and different lens. Going to Bat Mitzvah tutoring has taught me to pay more attention during services and now I have a better understanding of what the prayers mean and why we say them. While preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I found myself asking a lot of hard and unanswerable questions that everyone had an opinion about. This led me to seeking answers that fit my opinions and my beliefs. My favorite thing about being Jewish is coming together as a congregation to pray. I love going to services and being in a happy and welcoming community surrounded by the people and things I love most.
While preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I completed multiple service projects including volunteering at McKee Road Elementary School to help with their fall festival and kids’ voting. This was fun for me because I got to help out at my old school and teach kids the importance of voicing their opinion. I also made blankets and toys for the Humane Society’s dogs so they could have fun, new toys to play with and blankets to cuddle with. Another thing I did was help sell bagels to raise money for the Temple Beth El Youth Group. This was important to me because the funds help send kids like me to Jewish Camps for the summer. After completing several Mitzvah projects, I was proud of myself for doing Tikkun Olam and making the world a better place. It felt good to know that I was making a difference in the world and making an impact on others around me.
Shayla is the daughter of Michelle and Andy Siegel, and the sister of Jocelyn. She is the granddaughter of Barbara and David Bender of Reading, PA and Teri and Steve Siegel of Charlotte, NC. Send messages of Mazel Tov.
Saturday, February 2
My favorite part of being Jewish is the food like, bagels and latkes. I also love getting together with family and friends at the holidays and creating new traditions. Becoming Bar Mitzvah means becoming a Jewish adult and having more responsibilities for the Jewish community, like leading services, reading Torah, and participating. Sheva has been fun because I like having interesting conversations with the rabbis and my friends. Preparing for my bar mitzvah confirmed what I already know because of all the times my parents brought me to services and participated in Jewish life at home.
For my mitzvah project, I sorted books that people had donated to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Then I volunteered at ImaginOn for Epicfest and helped families choose books to take home for free to build their home library. It was fun to see books I knew, and I really liked helping little kids find the book that they wanted. Lots of kids were really excited to have a book to take home. I will keep learning about Judaism by participating in Hebrew High and continue to learn more Torah by tutoring other b’nei mitzvah students in the future.
Asher is the son of Martha and Brian Yesowitch and the brother of Nora. His grandparents are Glenn and Pam Link of Augusta, GA and Bill and Judy Yesowitch of Delray Beach, FL. Send notes of congratulations.