Zachary Weinberg's Bar Mitzvah

Zachary Weinberg becomes Bar Mitzvah

Shalom! My name is Zachary Weinberg, and I am a 7th grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. On September 14, 2019, I have the honor of being called to the Torah to become a Bar Mitzvah. It’s also an honor to be the first in my class to become a Bar Mitzvah at Beth Sholom, I can’t wait to support and cheer on my classmates.

At school, I really enjoy math, writing, and being with my friends. Outside of school, I enjoy gaming, running, swimming, reading and drawing.

I have a younger brother named Jacob, and loving parents, Sharon and Josh. My bar mitzvah is Shabbat Ki Teitzei. Parshat Ki Teitzei is interesting because we learn 67 mitzvot (I have chosen to talk about a moral issue raised in my parsha and what the process of writing a d’var torah taught me.)

I have learned two Haftorahs as we will read a second Haftorah that we missed during Rosh Chodesh. My interest in tech has led me to start volunteering at The Jewish Home helping residents with their tech needs.

Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah coincided with starting Middle School, both have required a lot of work and time management on my part. I’ve learned so much and even enjoyed myself along the way. I couldn’t have done it alone. I would like to thank my parents for giving me a Jewish home everyday, making me feel at home at Beth Sholom all these years, taking me to Israel for Passover, driving me to my lessons and always pushing me to get in some practice time. My amazing teachers at Brandeis who taught me Hebrew, all about Judaism, and gave me my first experiences with grade led tefillot, writing a d’var torah and reading from the Torah. Thank you Rabbi Ain and Rabbi Russell for helping me through the process of writing my Drash. My tutor Noa Bar, the religious school classes (and the pizza) were also key to for helping me learn everything I need to know on the day of my Bar Mitzvah. I would also like to thank my wonderful grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers and friends from near and far for supporting me and being here today to make this a very special simcha for me and my family.

Vivian Miller's Bat Mitzvah

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Vivian Miller becomes Bat Mitzvah


My name is Vivian Miller, my family has been at Beth Sholom for three generations. I’m looking forward to becoming a bat mitzvah this coming Saturday, September 7th, and carrying on an important family tradition. I’ve been a part of the San Francisco Youth Circus for three years now, and if I’m not swinging on a trapeze, I enjoy spending time with family, friends, creating art, surfing, completing school assignments, exploring SF, traveling, trying new food, and as of recently, preparing for this milestone. I have been attending San Francisco Friends School since kindergarten, and am excited for 7th grade this year.

This week, I’ll be reading from Parshat Shoftim, which covers the basic laws of establishing a just society. Shoftim means “judges,” and this portion teaches us a lot about appointing judges who are unbiased and will govern the people with integrity. I was particularly intrigued by what this reading had to say about the significance of trees and how to treat them thoughtfully during times of war (and always). Given the state of our environment, I think it’s important to remember what G-d has told us about being mindful of our world, which relates to my study of, and dedication to, Tikkun Olam.

I want to thank my parents, Nonni and Opa, my brother, my close friends and everyone else who has supported me through this process. I also want to thank Rabbi Dan Ain and Rabbi Russell, my bat mitzvah tutor Noa Bar, my Hebrew teacher Sima Krames and lastly, everyone at Congregation Beth Sholom for all they have done throughout my Jewish education.

Ari Cohen's Bar Mitzvah

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Ari Cohen becomes Bar Mitzvah


My name is Ari Cohen, and I’m a third gen. San Franciscan. I enjoy soccer, fishing, gardening, badminton, tennis, ping pong, basketball, friends, family, Magic the Gathering, art, reading comics and exploring the world including my neighborhood. I really enjoy bonding with my family doing the things I love, such as playing a “friendly” basketball game, or trying (and failing), to teach others how to play magic. This year, when I am having my Bar Mitzvah, I’ll be an eighth grader at Gateway Middle School and next year, I will enter high school!

My Bar Mitzvah is August 31st, and I have family and friends coming from Sweden, England, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area. No matter how near or far you came, I am thankful you are here to share this important milestone with me.

This week's Torah portion is called Re’eh which means “see.” The Israelites have been wandering in the desert, for almost 40 years, and just before they enter Israel, G-d tells Moses to give a speech to the Israelites. Moses’s first sentence in his big speech sets the tone: “See (Re’eh), I present before you today a blessing and a curse.” Either follow G-d’s commands and be blessed, or be cursed for failing to respect G-d. The people need to make choices and take action by themselves, because Moses will not always be there to lead them. 

I want to thank my mamma and pappa, my sister Shana, my cousin Naomi, all my grandparents and the rest of my family and friends. I also want to thank the Rabbi Dan Ain, my tutor Noa Bar, my Hebrew teacher Sima Krames and Congregation Beth Sholom for supporting my Jewish education and friendships with others!

Alex Billick's Bar Mitzvah


Alex Billick becomes Bar Mitzvah

Hello. My name is Alex Billick, and I am a sixth grader at Live Oak School. I’m excited to be having my Bar Mitzvah at Beth Sholom, and it's been fun preparing for it with my parents, my brother Max, Noa Bar and Rabbi Ain.

Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah has been an enlightening journey. I especially enjoyed writing my Dvar Torah with the help of Rabbi Dan Ain. It was also fun learning something new in the form of trop.

My parsha is Emor. In it, Moses lays out the laws for the Cohanim and the details of the sacred times and festivals of G-d, the Mo’adei Adonai. It also sets out the laws about profaning God's name, maiming and murder, the famous ‘an eye for an eye’.

Becoming a Bar Mitzvah has been a long, and sometimes stressful road. It was challenging to balance my Bar Mitzvah preparation with my other activities. I like to play baseball, basketball, and go on adventures with the Boy Scouts. I also like to play guitar, practice archery, and game. My favorite subjects at school are science and social studies.

I would like to thank Rabbi Ain for being very thoughtful and insightful with his questions and helping me prepare my drash, and Noa Bar for teaching me to chant Torah. I would also like to thank Dora, Lewis and Ben for helping me articulate my ideas in my drash. Lastly, I would like to thank my mom, my dad, my brother, and the CBS community for helping me get to this day.

Luka Ehrensaft-Oh's Bar Mitzvah


Shalom! My name is Luka Ehrensaft-Oh, and I am a 7th grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. On March 30, 2019, I have the honor of being called to the Torah to become a Bar Mitzvah.

At school, I really enjoy math, writing, and being with my friends. Outside, of school, I like to skateboard, draw, and play the guitar. I have a brother named Finn, an adorable dog named Ruby, and 2 amazing, loving parents. My bar mitzvah is Shabbat Parah, a special Shabbat that precedes Pesach. Parshat Shemini is interesting because it tells the story of the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons who were consumed in flames for offering "alien fire" before G-d. This has taught me a lot about the importance of respecting people’s roles, and I will talk more about other rabbis’ thoughts as well as mine on this in my Drash.

Preparing for my Bar Mitzvah has been a challenging process, and I couldn’t have done it alone. I would like to thank my parents for always pushing me to get in some practice time, Rabbi Ain for helping me through the process of writing my Drash, and my wonderful tutor, Randy Weiss, for all the FaceTime lessons and helping me learn everything I need to know on the day of my Bar Mitzvah, as well as the potato chips and cookies. I would also like to thank all my wonderful friends for supporting me every single day, and for the many laughs we have shared together. I look forward to seeing all of you at my Bar Mitzvah.

Leila Eshaghpour-Silberman's Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, January 19


Shalom! My name is Leila Eshaghpour-Silberman. I am a seventh grader at Presidio Middle School. When I am not reading, I enjoy spending time with my friends, playing soccer, piano, and saxophone, and learning character folk dance. This Shabbat I am thrilled to be called to the Torah to become a Bat Mitzvah. 

 This week’s parsha details the splitting of the Red Sea. Also, the Haftorah tells the story of Devorah and Yael, the only Jewish texts that give women the credit for a military victory. I think it is really important for young women to be acknowledged in history, and I am very proud to read both the songs of Miriam and Devorah, two powerful women, on the day of my Bat Mitzvah.

 Preparing for this weekend has been an incredible process and it took the help of many people to get ready for this occasion. I want to thank my family for their support and I am especially grateful for my amazing Bat Mitzvah tutor—Dr. Noa Bar—for helping me learn my Torah portion, always believing in my ability to chant Hebrew, and agreeing to teach me Sephardi trope, as I am half Persian Jew and half Ashkenazi Jew. Thank you to Rabbi Ain for guiding me through this process and pushing me to reach my potential. And I am grateful to my extended family, friends, and the community of Congregation Beth Sholom for instilling my Jewish faith and Jewish identity. I have attended this synagogue since birth and went to preschool here. I look forward to celebrating this momentous life occasion with you all. Thank you for joining me and my family on this special day.

Rayna Novicoff's Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, January 12


Hi. My name is Rayna Novicoff and I am a 7th grader at A.P. Giannini middle school in San Francisco. I play soccer and like to surf, swim, rock climb and spend time at the beach. I also love to hang out with my friends, my brother, Arlo, and my parents. 

I have basically grown up at Congregation Beth Sholom, from preschool to Shabbat School and now I’m days away from becoming a Bat Mitzvah. I’m excited! It has been an empowering experience and I couldn’t have made it to this day without my teachers, tutors, family, and the CBS community. 

Thank you to my tutor Marilyn Heiss for helping me learn everything in preparation for my Bat Mitzvah and to Rabbi Ain for working with me on my drash. Special thanks to Noa Bar for being a great teacher over the past few years and for stepping in to support me on my Bat Mitzvah day. (Marilyn, you will be missed!) 

This week’s torah portion, Parashat Bo, begins in the middle of the story of the ten plagues, when hail has covered the land. God has come to Egypt to do two things, first to free the Israelites from slavery and second to punish the Egyptians by gifting them 10 plagues to their people and to their land. Each plague gets harsher and harsher and they end with mass amounts of death and loss for each and every Egyptian family.

 After the 10th and final plague, the deaths of the first born, Pharaoh finally gives in and begs Moses and Aaron to take everything and everyone and leave. With unleavened bread on their backs and stolen gold and silver from the Egyptians, the Israelites leave with their entire community, including their flock. It had been 430 years of slavery…and now they are free!

I look forward to seeing you on Shabbat and sharing more thoughts about Parashat Bo. Thank you for joining me and my family on this special day. 

Leo Kessler's Bar Mitzvah on December 22


My name is Leo Kessler. I attend A.P Giannini Middle School, and I am in seventh grade. I like to play basketball with my friends, and to skate freestyle around the city.

This weekend I will be sharing a very special day with my family, friends and congregation when I am called to the Torah to become a Bar Mitzvah. I think becoming a Bar Mitzvah is about taking in the differences of being a kid to becoming an adult. To elaborate, it’s the understanding of the fact that you have crossed a threshold and now things will never be the same.

There is also the fact that in order to totally understand this ceremony, you literally have to take away a lesson from your speech and use it. I’ll be digging deep into the story of Joseph, to see the transitions that he made from being a scared kid in a pit to being a leader. Joseph’s life between the worlds of the Israelites and the Egyptians can be related to today’s B'nai Mitzvah.

I’d like to thank Rabbi Elisheva and Rabbi Ain, for guiding me straight to this event and never giving up on me. Thanks to my former teachers, Jacob Erez and Randy Weiss, for creating the foundations of my Hebrew learning in order to get me ready for this day.

Ella Sturm's Bat Mitzvah on December 8


Hi! I am Ella Sturm and I am in 7th Grade at San Francisco Day School. At school I enjoy art, playing trumpet and learning about history. For the past few years I have been a part of First Lego League (Robotics) and it has given me a great perspective on teamwork and competition. I like space, especially Mars, and would love to be an astronaut one day. Outside of school I enjoy hanging out with friends and watching TV, going to Giants games with my dad, traveling East with my mom, and spending time with my brother, Toby. I also like boxing and playing baseball.    

Over the last few years, I have been preparing for my Bat Mitzvah by attending Shabbat School. I have learned a lot from my preparation including time management, prioritizing things that need to get done (even if they are not what I want to do), and that Judaism and this community welcome hard questions. And I ask some hard questions. My Torah portion, Miketz, tells the story of Joseph and the highs and lows of being part of a family and community.  I drew some connections to my relationship with my brother and my family. I also related to how far Joseph came from being a slave at the bottom of a pit to being the second in command to Pharaoh.  

I want to thank Rabbi Ain, who took time to help me with my speech and pushed the boundaries of my assumptions and perceptions. I also would like to thank my tutors Noa Bar and Stuart Blecher, who, after a rough beginning, helped me to learn my Torah portion and prepare for my Bat Mitzvah. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for everything they do to support me and for giving me room to grow.  

Esther Lopez's Bat Mitzvah


Shalom!  My name is Esther Lopez and I am a rising 8th grader at The Brandeis School.  My favorite things to do are sing, dance, spend time with my friends, and binge watch Netflix shows.

I am so excited to share my special day with you!  Becoming a bat mitzvah raised a lot of confusing questions for me. For example, is it more important to feel holy or to do holy things? I discuss this topic and more in my dvar torah.

My parsha is Chukat which has a lot of important events.  For example, Aaron and Miriam both die. When Miriam dies, the wandering Israelites complain about the lack of water. Moses asks G-d what to do. He tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and there will be water. Moses gets impatient and strikes the rock twice, leading to his inability to enter the Promised Land in the future.

Thank you to Noa Bar for leading me up to this day, and to Rabbi Glazer for helping me to think about what all of this means for me. The biggest thanks goes to my friends and family for giving me the courage to become a bat mitzvah.

Talya Sahara Glazer's Bat Mitzvah


DATE: Monday, June 4

TIME: 7-8 a.m., followed by a Kiddush breakfast sponsored by CBS.

We would love to have you join us at this family simcha.Please RSVP.

Shalom. My name is Talya Glazer and I love to dance. I take jazz funk and hip hop at Geary Dance Center. I love living in San Francisco, the American Jerusalem, and hope to live in Jerusalem itself one day.

One of the things I enjoy about the CBS community is being surrounded by the "regulars" who come to minyan and Shabbat services on a regular basis. They have embraced me and I am grateful for their presence. I am also grateful for their advice on everything from the best way to handle grape juice for kiddush at Kabbalat Shabbat services, to finding the best comics.

My kavvana for my bat mitzvah is to listen to the wise voice within and from the divine to follow the path of possibility.

Noa Marks' Bat Mitzvah


Hello! My name is Noa Marks. I am a seventh grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco, and I am so excited to celebrate my Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Sholom this Shabbat!

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah has been an unexpectedly enjoyable journey. I have learned so much about the Shabbat service and the Torah service. I especially enjoyed learning to sing the prayers and to chant Torah using the correct tropes, all the while treating my family to my many practice sessions.

It has been challenging fitting in my Bat Mitzvah preparation with my many other activities and interests - lots and lots of soccer, surfing, lots and lots of homework, skiing, and our puppy, Khaya. Despite these time consuming activities, my studies and preparation went very well. I can’t believe that in only a few days I will present all my hard work from the last many months and become a Jewish adult!

At my Bat Mitzvah I will be reading from the Torah and sharing my thoughts on the weekly parsha, Parshat Emor. In Emor, G-d instructs Moses to tell the Israelites who can be a Kohen (or priest) and what requirements apply to the Kohanim. I have been thinking quite a bit about why G-d created these requirements for the priests, what qualifications should be expected of priests today, and what my expectations are for my own conduct. I hope you will join me this Shabbat to hear my thoughts on Emor!

As I look forward to my Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat, I am grateful for the support of so many people. I would like to thank Noa Bar, for helping me learn to chant Torah, and for guiding me with her beautiful voice through learning all of the prayers. I would also like to thank Rabbi Micah Hyman and Rabbi Dan Ain, for inspiring me and helping me with my Dvar Torah. Thank you so much to Beth Sholom's amazing staff for making my Bat Mitzvah possible. Thank you to my family, friends, and the Beth Sholom community who will celebrate this simcha with me. And, finally, I am so grateful for the loving support of my parents, brother, and puppy.

Noa Shenkar's Bat Mitzvah



Shalom! My name is Noa Shenkar, and I'm excited to step up to the bimah for the first time and lead the CBS community in prayer!

I've enjoyed the time I've studied with Rabbi Glazer and Rabbi Elisheva [Salamo]. It is fun to learn more about the Torah, and to discuss the messages in my Torah portion, Parashat Lech Lecha.

Lech Lecha brings up some difficult questions of truth. When Abraham faces a crisis, he must think very quickly, and decide whether or not it is permissible or not to tell a lie in order to get out of a complicated situation with the Pharaoh.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, November 12.

Simona Lewis' Bat Mitzvah



Hello. My name is Simona Lewis. I’m an eighth grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. My interests include hanging out with my friends, dancing, playing and creating computer games, and spending time with my family. This coming Shabbat, September 10, I will become a bat mitzvah.

My parsha is Shoftim, which means judges. In this parsha, Moses tells the Israelites about different rules about appointing judges and how to have a just society. He explains the requirements to be a judge, the rules about the cities of refuge, as well as the requirements a king must have if the Israelites choose to appoint one. Parashat Shoftim also includes the famous commandment, "Tzedek tzedek tirdof," or, "Justice, justice you shall pursue."

I would like to thank my parents for always being there for me and helping me prepare for this big day in my life. I would also like to thank Rabbi Jill Cozen-Harel for her support and for helping me learn how to read and chant Torah and haftarah, as well as helping me write my drash. I would also like to thank my brother and sister for encouraging me and listening to me practice countless times. Lastly, I would like to thank The Brandeis School of San Francisco and the Congregation Beth Sholom community for celebrating this milestone in my life with me and my family.

Please note that Simona's bat mitzvah will take place at Camp Newman on Saturday, September 10, but that she will observe a tefillinbat mitzvah at CBS this Thursday, September 8, during morning minyan (7 a.m.).

Simone Jochnowitz's Bat Mitzvah



Hello. My name is Simone Jochnowitz. I’m an eighth grader at A.P. Giannini Middle School. My interests include hanging out with my friends, playing trombone in my school band, dancing, and going on walks with my dog. This coming Shabbat, August 27, I will become a bat mitzvah.

My parsha is Ekev, which means "if." In this parsha, Moses tells the people Israel about all the good things that will happen to them IF they follow the laws and commandments that he has taught them. He reminds them about the unfortunate episode involving the Golden Calf, and other evil actions they committed during their 40 years in the desert. Parashat Ekev also contains the famous question, "What does HaShem want?" (The answer: "Follow his ways and do justice.")

I would like to thank my mother and father for teaching me the haftarah and helping me with my speech; Rabbi Glazer for his support; my brother and sisters for their love and encouragement; and the Congregation Beth Sholom community for celebrating this simcha with me and my family.

Miles Kessler's Bar Mitzvah



My name is Miles Kessler, and I am a 7th grader at Roosevelt Middle School. I enjoy playing board games like Monopoly along with strategic games like chess and Risk. I also enjoy playing World War II video games, engineering, model railroading, and playing jazz on my tenor saxophone.

I am very excited about my bar mitzvah this coming Shabbat, but, to tell you the truth, I'm also pretty terrified! The Torah portion will be Parashat Chukat. The manuscript outlines the laws of purity, that is, how one becomes impure, and instructions on how to purify those who are impure. It then chronicles Moses' mistake (when he struck, rather than spoke, to a rock to get water for the parched Israelites), and the history of what happened next.

I cannot wait to share this day with my friends, Greg and Colin, family, and all the members of the minyan, and I hope you find it enlightening.

I would like to thank my mom and dad for pushing me on when I got stuck and teaching me the value of commitment; my tutor, Stuart, for teaching me how to do get the job done along with the value of learning; Rabbi Glazer, for giving me the gift of Torah study and instructing me on the value of spirituality; the weekday minyan, for showing me how to read the Torah and teaching me the value of tolerance; and all the previous b'nai mitzvahs during the last school year, for exposing me to this process and teaching me the value of passing on knowledge as a side effect of your own learning process.

Elise Taubman's Bat Mitzvah



Shalom! My name is Elise Taubman and I am a 7th grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco. At Brandeis, I enjoy taking electives on computer programming and discussing Shakespeare with my classmates in my English class. The best part of school is that I get to hang out with a great group of friends, some of whom I have known since kindergarten. Aside from school, I enjoy singing with the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco and dancing at my dance studio. When I really want to relax, there is nothing better than spinning yarn on my Kiwi (my spinning wheel). Time with my family is particularly important to me and I enjoy spending Shabbat dinners and holidays, such as Passover, with my family.

Over the last year, I have been preparing for the occasion of becoming a bat mitzvah. I have gained much from my preparation and learned about the struggles of commitment and time management throughout the process. My parsha is Behar, in which G-d describes the rules regarding the Sabbatical years, the Jubilee year and land ownership, among others. I enjoyed reading the different interpretations of Parashat Behar, and particularly meaningful to me was the Jubilee section which acts to remedy entrenched poverty and to restore power to the voiceless in society.

This year in 7th grade, I have been working on my Tzedakah project, alongside my bat mitzvah studies. In this project, two students at Brandeis work together to learn about a charitable organization. My partner and I chose Mitzvah Corps, which provides Jewish high school-aged teenagers with an opportunity to travel to poor communities around the world. Teens connect and learn about those communities and donate their time to help with projects in those communities. From this project, I have learned much about how even teenagers can make a difference in the world and I am looking forward to participating in Mitzvah Corps once I am in high school.

I want to thank Rabbi Glazer, who took time to help me prepare for my bat mitzvah. I also would like to thank my tutor Randy Weiss and my Saba for helping me chant my haftarah, maftir, and Torah service prayers. Finally, I would like to thank my parents and siblings for their endless support and nagging. I needed all of it!

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Eli Leavitt's Bar Mitzvah



This Shabbat, we hope you'll join the CBS community as we celebrate Eli Leavitt's bar mitzvah!

A message from the bar mitzvah boy (soon to be man!) is just below.

Shalom! My name is Eli Leavitt and I am a 7th grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco. My bar mitzvah is on November 14 and I am really excited.

I have been going to Beth Sholom since pre-school, and I think that having a bar mitzvah is about becoming part of the adult community by reading from the Torah. My Torah portion is Parshat Toldot, which tells about Jacob tricking Esau into giving him his birthright, and then later, through more trickery, stealing the blessing intended for Esau from Isaac.

In 5th grade, my family and I spent a year in Tel Aviv. I attended a school in Hebrew and made a lot of great friends. I also ate a lot shawarma and falafel! We ended the school year with a two-month road trip across Europe. In addition to travel, I also like ju-jitsu, design, and cars.

I think that becoming a bar mitzvah does not just happen when you read Torah. I think it happens gradually as you gain a bigger understanding of your parsha and become closer and closer to being an adult in the Jewish community. I would like to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me gain a better understanding of my drash, and my tutor Randy Weiss for teaching me my Torah and haftarah portions.