B’nei Mitzvah

B'nei Mitzvah

Owen Heath

Ki Tisa
Saturday, March 2, 2024

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays, specifically Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover, and enjoying the festivities and treats.  Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means I’ll be able to share this love with my family one day.

As part of my mitzvah project, I had the chance to be a reading buddy this summer with the Freedom School.  I really enjoyed reading with the kids.  I will also be participating this spring in the Levine JCC Kids Triathlon, for the fourth year.  This event is a fundraiser that benefits juvenile rehabilitation and adaptive sports programs.  In my prior three years I have raised over $1500 and hope to add more to that this year.  But what I am most enthusiastic about is animal welfare.  I’m currently collecting much needed supplies for Union County Animal Services.

As I become an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community, I plan to continue learning and growing here at TBE, looking towards being a madrichim myself and participating in Hebrew High.

Brayden Henry

Saturday, February 24, 2024

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays and experiencing the culture, being diverse from others, and learning a whole new language.  To be a Bar Mitzvah means that I have finally become a Jewish adult and all the practice and hard work I’ve done through Sunday school has come full circle.  Becoming a B’nei Mitzvah has taught me that I’m kind of a shy person and that is ok.  I have also learned that many people have goals and aspirations to help others in need just as I do.  While preparing for my Bar Mitzvah I’ve learned more about the religion of Judaism and the Torah.

My Mitzvah project was volunteering with Rice and Beans which is an organization that donates food, clothes, and basic necessities to the homeless or people in need in our local community. I chose this project because I like giving to people and it’s nice to know that you’re making a difference by helping so many people. I find that it is very fulfilling helping others in need and that we take for granted the things that some people can’t or don’t have.  It made me really happy seeing people smile and happy to get care and love from others. 

Now that I have become a Jewish adult, I plan to keep celebrating all the holidays with my family and experiencing the culture.  I will embrace my Judaism, share my religion and traditions with others, and cherish the moments I’ve made in the temple.

Brayden is the son of Randy and Rachel Henry. He is the brother of Bridgette. He is the grandson of Bob and Barbara Buchholz of Cape Coral, Florida and Johnny and Terry Henry of Monroe, North Carolina.


Andrew Waller

Saturday, February 10, 2024

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all the time spent with friends and family. I love all the traditions that bring my family together and every week I get to see all of my Jewish friends at Sheva. Another thing that I like about Judaism is the holidays. It is always so much fun to celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the candles and I also like the dinners I have with my family on Passover. 

For my Mitzvah project I helped coach Little League baseball. This was a great fit for me since I love to play baseball and it was cool to see the kids get better throughout the season. 

During Sheva we do things other than socializing, we have been choosing charities to aid with our tzedakah. The charity I have been researching is the Trevor Project.The Trevor project is an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ teens who are depressed or have suicidal thoughts. I don’t even like to think that people would hurt themselves so I want to support an organization that helps in these situations.

Andrew lives in Charlotte with his parents Mike and Liz Waller and has two older brothers, Sam and Toby Waller.

Asher Foodman

Saturday, February 3, 2024

My favorite thing about being jewish is the question mark – ?. Jews like to question. We get to question things in our community and are taught to never blindly believe what someone says. Becoming a bar mitzvah literally means that I’m old enough to participate and lead as an adult in our Jewish community. But being an adult also comes with responsibility, to support the community and to be mature in making decisions. I still have some growth to accomplish, but I’m on my way. For example, as I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah I learned that I can – unfortunately and once in a while – be a bit of a procrastinator. I also learned that if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish great things.


My bar mitzvah project was helping my mom help settle Afghan refugees. I chose to do this project because I saw my mom helping people and I wanted to join in too. Through this Mitzvah project I have gained a further understanding of the world and how hard it must be to be a refugee – to leave everything and everyone behind, to come to a new country for their safety and security, and the challenges of learning a new language. Many Jews have been refugees and we should remember that we can help people so they don’t feel alone.


I plan to continue my jewish life by going to services regularly, to keep learning, becoming a madrich in our Religious School, and participating in the Jewish community.

Charlotte Holcman

Saturday, January 27, 2024

My favorite thing about being Jewish are the holiday celebrations with family. I love meeting up with family and taking some time off of work and school. I love traveling to see out-of-state family for Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah.

Becoming a bat mitzvah means to me that you grow up and start to have more responsibilities as a Jewish person. It means that I need to take on bigger opportunities in life. And I will jump at those opportunities whenever I get them and try to be my best Jewish self.

Being in the Sheva program and preparing for my bat mitzvah has taught me that I need to work really hard if I want something. Sure there have been some nights that I just want to sit and watch Harry Potter movies and not practice my torah portion, but I learned that I needed to work if I really wanted to be great being a Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat.

My mitzvah project was supporting the Ronald McDonald house of Charlotte. I chose this organization because someone that works at RMDH came to my middle school last year and talked about the families of sick children, hospitalized here in Charlotte who feel sad and how we could help bring them some joy. I wanted to help make the families happy. I learned that helping those in need spreads hope and that hope helps make people happy.

I plan to keep learning about Judaism and living with Judaism through Hebrew High and teaching others about our culture and religion. I want to explore Jewish traditions and history, and to travel to Jewish places like Israel to see how other Jewish people live and celebrate holidays.


Michael Kahn

Saturday, December 16

I am really proud to become a Bar Mitzvah, and though it took a lot  of hard work, I know that I can accomplish anything with chipping away at it, day-by-day.  This process has taught me that  I can do big things.  It has also reminded me how proud I am to be Jewish.  My favorite thing about being Jewish is the community.  I’ve found instant friendships that started out with “You’re Jewish?”   It seems that Jews will do anything to help each other out, and I love how we truly take care of each other. 

I plan on always being active in the Jewish community, including Temple Beth El and Jewish youth organizations. I love celebrating the holidays and traditions with my family and friends (like our Shabbat Supper Club) and I can’t wait to pass those traditions down.

For my mitzvah project, I focused on  different aspects of food insecurity.  North Carolina has the 10th highest rate of food insecurity in the country.  This affects all ages, from children to senior citizens. I participated in an interfaith program at a Mosque where we made sandwiches for the Salvation Army.  I helped my grandmother in the food pantry at Jewish Family Services.  I worked several sessions with Shalom Green in the Community Garden. Finally, my friend Zach Althofer and I put together 150 snack packs that we donated to kids at a local Boys & Girls Club.   I have a better understanding of how fortunate I am and I would like to continue to help with this growing problem.

Michael is the son of Raizel and Brian Kahn. He has three older brothers, Zach, Charlie, and Cooper. He is the grandson of Mike and Marcia Arnholt and Anne Fortson.

Please send messages of Mazel Tov

Asher Jones

Saturday, December 9

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all the holidays I get to celebrate.  Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means a lot because I get more responsibilities. 

When I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, I learned I was good at chanting prayers.  I did many service projects like Joseph’s many colored coat which is the subject of my Torah portion.  I will keep living with Judisiam by celebrating all the Jewish Holidays. 

My parents names are Kyle and Sarah Jones.  My siblings names are Camille and Rylin.  My Papa and Gigi are from Orlando, Florida.  My Grandma Karen lives in Greenville, SC.

Please send Mazel Tovs

Charles Kutsak

Saturday, December 2

What I cherish most about being Jewish is our incredible heritage, tracing back to thousands of years who have endured immense historical challenges and persecution. What truly fills me with pride is the way Jewish communities stand together, supporting each other in times of adversity and triumph. This unity and resilience have allowed us to not only endure but thrive. Despite our relatively small population, the Jewish people have left a mark on the world, showing that even a small group can make a profound impact. Being part of this legacy makes me proud to be Jewish.


 For me, reaching the milestone of a Bar Mitzvah is a significant event in my life, filled with cherished memories that will be close to my heart for the rest of my life. Personally, becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I am recognized as an adult within the Jewish community, and it comes with added responsibilities, as I take ownership of my actions and choices.


While getting ready for my Bar Mitzvah, I’ve realized that this path isn’t a simple one. It demands a lot of preparation, especially in the last six months leading up to the big day. This time has made me pause and think deeply about what it truly means to be Jewish. Being Jewish means living a life filled with gratitude and pride for our heritage. It means standing together with my community, supporting and helping one another, and striving to be the best version of myself, all with the goal of making a positive impact on humanity.


For my Bar Mitzvah project I helped plant trees for TreesCharlotte. I also helped at an organization called Matthews Help Center, I helped assemble snack bags for little children that are not as fortunate as I am. 


Following my Bar Mitzvah, I’m committed to continuing my journey of learning about the rich history of Judaism and practicing the teachings of the Torah. I will carry with me a profound sense of pride in being Jewish, always remembering our heritage. My connection with God is something I’ll hold onto, with prayers from my Siddur that I’ll say every day. I’ll keep treasuring the celebration of Jewish holidays, and my dream is to pass down the richness of our customs and traditions to my family, including my future children. I hope that these traditions will thrive for many generations in my family.


I am the son of Maksim Kutsak and Yadira Kutsak. I have an older sister, Savanna. 

Aneliese Courtemanche

Saturday, November 18

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the holidays like Hanukkah and Shabbat. I love that I am able to enjoy and celebrate holidays that most of my friends don’t celebrate and that I have the opportunity to teach my friends about Judaism. During Sheva, I have learned about the different things that Judaism teaches us, and I have spent time thinking about what it means to me to be Jewish. To me, becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I can carry on this wonderful Jewish tradition. My mitzvah project was helping kids at my school with math for an hour every Friday morning. I love this because I got to share my love and gift of math with my peers at school. I plan to keep learning about Judaism and living with Judaism by maybe becoming a tutor to help students prepare for their bat/bar mitzvahs, becoming a madricha, and going to Hebrew High.


Aneliese lives in Waxhaw with her parents, Ryan and Melanie Courtemanche, and one older sister, Maddie and one younger sister, Talia. Maddie’s maternal grandparents are Hunnie and Bob Klein of Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Jacob Widelitz

Chayei Sarah
Saturday, November 11

Piper Gorchov

Saturday, November 4

My favorite thing about being Jewish is celebrating the holidays with my family and friends.  Since most of my family does not live in Charlotte, I love having the traditions of spending this time with people in my life who are close to me, whether they are family or not.  Becoming a Bat Mitzvah feels like I am maturing and being given the responsibility to decide who I want to be as a Jewish adult.  Preparing for my Bat Mitzvah was a lot of hard work!  I didn’t expect it to be so challenging, but it taught me that even when things seem hard to me, with the help of others I was able to achieve everything I needed to for this day. 


For my Mitzvah Project I chose to collect items for the Jewish Family Services Food pantry.  I scheduled a collection in my neighborhood by posting flyers at every house and using social media to get my neighbors motivated to help.  I chose this project because a lot of people in the community don’t have the resources they need on a daily basis, things I don’t think about because they are always available to me.  It made me feel good and was rewarding, knowing I was able to help gather items that will go to people and families that need them.


Piper is the daughter of Brie and Brett Gorchov and older sister of Asher.  Piper is also the granddaughter of Bruce Plotnick of Lancaster, PA, and Maxine Gorchov of Sunrise, FL.

Send Mazel Tov


Sam Gonedes

Saturday, November 4

My favorite thing about being Jewish is feeling part of a community that is always there for each other. My whole life I have participated in activities at the Levine JCC, Temple Beth El and Religious School. These experiences have helped shape me as a person. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means not only to carry on the tradition of my family but also mature as an individual. It has helped me analyze and learn about values like patience, persistence and dedication. 

My Mitzvah project was working with Heart Math Tutoring and other educational organizations. School has always been important to me and I wanted to help others by bringing excitement into their learning. I learned about the value of patience out of this for example when I stuffed informational packets for parents. As I make my journey into Jewish adulthood, I plan to continue representing my Judaism via continuing to attend Sheva and services. I hope one day to become a Madrachim to help give kids a similar Religious School experience to what I had. 

Jaime and Andrew Gonedes are the proud parents of the bar mitzvah Samuel Logan Gonedes. He has a younger brother Zachary, age 10.  Sam’s grandparents, Ellyn and Michael Weisfelner, join us from Rock Hill, SC. Sam’s Nana, Suzanne Smiley, has traveled from Queens, New York to celebrate. Sam’s Grandma Linda and Uncle Nick  join us today  in spirit. May their memories be a blessing.

Send Mazel Tov

Zachary Holzberg

Lech L'cha
Saturday, October 28

One of my favorite things about being Jewish is the resiliency of the Jewish people. This is especially important now as we are faced with the crisis in Israel. I feel like this is a time when we can and should lean into our Judaism so the timing of my bar mitzvah is especially relevant to me. Last year, when I turned 15, I decided I wanted to become a bar mitzvah. I wanted to follow the tradition of my older brothers, my parents, my grandparents, and so on. I had to learn Hebrew, learn all of the prayers, and study my Torah portion, and the best part, attend Hebrew High. 

I struggled with what to do for my mitzvah project because I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me,  not just something that checked off a box. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to become involved with a couple of organizations that work with individuals with disabilities. Since my mother works in special education, this is something that means a lot to me and something I plan to continue throughout high school. 

As a sophomore in high school, I attend Hebrew High and will be confirmed in the spring! I will continue to live by Jewish values and I will continue learning about Judaism’s rich history. 

My parents are Debbie and Rick Holzberg and my two older brothers are Gordon (29) and Noah (27). My grandparents, Mitchell and Sandy Gordon live in Ballantyne. 


Zackary Nachman

Saturday, October 21

My favorite aspect of being Jewish is the opportunity to celebrate various holidays with my family and savor delicious food. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah signifies to me that I am growing up and maturing. During my Bar Mitzvah preparation, I’ve learned that I can grasp anything if I dedicate a little time to practice each day.

For my Mitzvah project, I assembled snack packs for the Ronald McDonald House, driven by the desire to assist those facing challenging moments in life. This experience has taught me to appreciate our health because many others around the world are struggling with health issues.

I intend to continue my learning about Judaism and embrace a Jewish way of life by participating in Sheva, attending services, and celebrating holidays with my family.

Zackary is the son of Jennifer and Charles Nachman and twin brother of Jared. Zackary is also the grandson of Gail Cohen (Indian Land, SC), Barbara Nachman (Fort Mill, SC), and Joel Nachman (Vero Beach, FL). Mazel Tovs can be sent to notes

Jared Nachman

Saturday, October 21

My favorite thing about being Jewish is spending the High Holy Days with my family. For me, Judaism includes both the traditions and the way that we gather together as a family to celebrate. While studying and preparing for the Bar Mitzvah has taken time, I am thrilled that I am accomplishing a goal. I was initially scared, but today I’m confident.

For my Mitzvah Project, I made snack-bags for the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. I also helped at South Charlotte Dog Rescue, to encourage people to adopt a dog. I am going to keep learning about Judaism, attending services and celebrating holidays with my family. 

Jared is the son of Jennifer and Charles Nachman and twin brother of Zackary. Jared is also the grandson of Gail Cohen (Indian Land, SC), Barbara Nachman (Fort Mill, SC), and Joel Nachman (Vero Beach, FL). Mazel Tovs can be sent to notes

Shepard Sodoma

Saturday, October 14

My favorite thing about being Jewish is all the good food, except for the parsley on Passover. In the future I plan to continue going to services, learning more about Judaism that I don’t yet know, and eating more good food.

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah is important in my family, and I have worked hard to get to this day.

For my mitzvah project I wrote letters of hope to families who have babies in the NICU because I was in the NICU when I was born. I think the letters give families hope and motivation to be strong by seeing that I was a baby in the NICU and am now a healthy and active seventh grader.

Matthew Stadiem

Saturday, October 14

Being Jewish means always feeling like I belong to a community, a community that understands and accepts me. Also, gelt! Yum. I feel ready to become a Jewish adult. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah will give me the opportunity to contribute to and lead my community. This event is marked with happiness – I look forward to seeing all of my friends and family together, celebrating this milestone. I am grateful for them taking the time to travel to Charlotte from throughout North Carolina, New Jersey, the DC area, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and even as far as Poland. 

During my Bar Mitzvah training, I learned that chanting is actually much harder than it looks… but with months of preparation and help—from Temple Beth-El staff as well as those at my Jewish sleep away camp in Indiana, GUCI—I was able to learn how to lead services and gain the confidence to speak about my beliefs.

I plan to continue on this path as a Jewish adult, first as a Modrich and later as an engaged Jewish adult. I believe from now on it is my responsibility to continue to carry on Jewish values and traditions for future generations. 

Matthew is the son of Raymond Benjamin Stadiem and Agata Ewa Rocka. He is the grandson of Pia Stadiem of Charlotte, NC, Michael Stadiem of Cary, NC, and Ewa Rocka of Warsaw, Poland.

Send notes of Mazel Tov

Reid Humphrey

Saturday, October 14

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the bond I share with Jews across the world. Only 0.2% of the 8 billion worldwide population is Jewish. I feel unique and proud that I am one of the 0.2% that can connect with my culture and help keep Jewish traditions alive through education and celebrating holidays with my friends and family.

For my Mitzvah project, I will be volunteering with Abraham’s Tent– a shared Muslim Community and Jewish Community Room in the Inn. I love that this partnership builds a bridge to strengthen our two communities and supports the homeless in our community.

Reid is the son of Noah and Linda Humphrey. He is the younger brother of Miles Humphrey. He is the grandson of Roberta & Herb Schneiderman of Bluffton, SC and Joyce Humphrey of Philadelphia, PA.

Send notes of Mazal Tov

Huntley Zimmern

Ki Teitzei
Saturday, August 26

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that there are so few Jews, which makes us a little different. I also appreciate that Judaism encourages us to help people. To become a Bar Mitzvah means to become more responsible. I know that I’m not an adult, yet. But I’m not a little kid, either. 

Through studying for my Bar Mitzvah, I have learned to work hard and stay ahead. I also helped to feed the homeless. My friend Peyton and I made 300 sandwiches and delivered the food to the Roof Above organization. Hunger and homelessness are real issues in our city and in this country and I want to help. Doing good deeds feels awesome, and I love the feeling of helping people. I plan to keep learning about Judaism, participating in services and community, and staying involved. 

Huntley is the son of Bill and Angie Zimmern and is the brother of Abby Zimmern. He is also the grandson of Sam and Emily Zimmern and Sandy Skipper and Larry Skipper.  

Send notes of Mazal Tov


Zachary Rosenthal

Ki Teitzei
Saturday, August 26

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that my religion teaches us to care about others, and to be accountable for our behavior. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means to me that I have more adult responsibilities to my family and my community. I have enjoyed learning the Hebrew language, and the rich history of the Jewish people.

My mitzvah project was to raise awareness for Roof Above, a homeless service provider. I made a podcast that advertised Roof Above, which helped to create awareness and donations to help people find better living conditions and meaningful jobs. As I will be a Jewish adult soon, I plan on continuing my education by attending services, celebrating the Jewish holidays and returning to Israel to learn more about my faith.

Zach is the son of Robyn and Todd Rosenthal.  He is the younger brother of Gabe.  He is the grandson of the late Rochelle Barr of Bloomfield Hills, MI, Sanford Lakin of West Bloomfield, MI, James Rosenthal of Parkland, FL and Judy Rosenthal of Rockville, MD. 

Send notes of Mazal Tov


Shakar Peterson

Saturday, August 19

My favorite thing about being Jewish is the traditions and how they live. The values make a lot of sense, and the traditions are very connecting. On the holidays, it’s like we go back in time, to when the Israelites were actually in that situation. It is really meaningful. Tradition is how you keep your religion alive. Teaching Torah to our children early is very important. If you teach them in fun ways, they will keep doing them when they are older. 

Tradition is a powerful thing. Being a Bar Mitzvah is a great responsibility. It’s up to you to keep the traditions, and set an example to the younger generations. Throughout this process, I have learned that smart work, diligence, and perseverance is important in becoming a man in our community. 

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at Shalom green garden. I chose it because it helps the environment, and you learn skills to become more sufficient on G-d and nature. From my experience, I’ve learned that tikkun Olam, Repairing the World is crucial. Tikkun Olam is very needed right now. The planet has been really showing humans that they need to start taking better care of it. Now since I am an adult in the community, I plan to study more, teach tradition, and implement the new things I’m learning into my life. 

My awesome parents are Lorenzo Peterson and Melita Peterson. I have 3 fantastic brothers named Shamon, Shane, and Shaun. I have 4 Grandparents named Vea ella Gee, Lavern Gee, Carolina and Thelma Peterson.

Ryan Bialeck

Saturday, August 12

Reed Stadler

Saturday, August 12

I love being Jewish. My favorite things about being Jewish are all the traditions and how unique it is from other religions. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I am accepted as a young adult in the Jewish community and I will embrace our many traditions. I will continue to practice Judaism by going to services and celebrating Shabbat and holidays in the future. I loved the process of getting ready for my Bar Mitzvah. My favorite thing was my Mitzvah Project. I made flyers so I could collect sports equipment to help out kids that couldn’t afford summer camps. Those summer camps helped their education and let them have fun. I’m very grateful to be here and when I get older I am sure that I will pass on my Jewish understanding to my own family. 

My parents are Christa and Lance Stadler. My Mom’s parents are Joe and Joan Armento. My Dad’s parents are Elaine and Henry Stadler. I have two siblings, Dylan (14) and Lily (9). 

Send notes of Mazal Tov

JJ Filanowicz

Saturday, August 5

My favorite thing about being Jewish is getting to do many different traditions and activities with my community, like going to services, having a bar mitzvah and celebrating Shabbat with family and friends. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that I have grown a lot as a Jew and a person. I have learned a lot more about my religion and the Torah, specifically the importance of helping those in need. In preparation for my bar mitzvah, I have learned I enjoy handwriting things more than typing.

For my Bar Mitzvah project, I did a few different things: I have been helping a past teacher prepare her home for a move overseas, volunteering at Beds for Kids, and raising money for charity. I chose these projects because it was a great opportunity to go out and spend time with people in need. I found a lot of joy participating in these projects.

I plan on living a Jewish life is by helping my younger sister with her Bat Mitzvah and by going to services.

Valerie Filanowicz

Saturday, August 5

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah is a big milestone in Judaism and in my eyes. My favorite thing about being Jewish is that I love seeing everyone work together as a community for events, such as Passover when everyone works together to have a seder.  I have learned that I can do a lot of things even if I don’t think I can while preparing for my Bat Mitzvah. 

My mitzvah project was Beds for Kids, which is an organization that gives beds, couches, tables, lamps, and more to people and kids that need them. Our first time volunteering was that we brought 3 beds, a crib, table, dressers and nightstands into someone’s house. This family had no beds or tables and had 3 kids and had been living with no furniture for 6 months since their last apartment had been flooded on Christmas. We chose this organization so kids can sleep on beds and have places to eat and sleep. We did it while the kids were napping and I can’t imagine the looks on their faces when they saw that they had beds. It makes me happy to know that we helped people have beds to sleep on and tables to eat at. 

When I am old enough, I plan to become a madrichah and help teach about Judaism.