Raquel Sweet's Bat Mitzvah

My name is Raquel Sweet. I am 13 years old and attend The Brandeis School of San Francisco, where I am in seventh grade. I enjoy swimming, dancing, and playing with my dog, Teddy.

I have belonged to Beth Sholom for my entire life. I have so many memories from the synagogue, from attending PJ Shabbat to celebrating all of the holidays – and, of course, my sister’s bat mitzvah last year.

This week, it will be my bat mitzvah. I will be reading from Parashat Noah. This is the story of Noah and the flood. The parsha also includes the story of the Tower of Babel. What many people don't know about this parsha is that it talks about the first time that people ate meat. Before the time of Noah, no one ate meat - everyone was a vegetarian. I am vegetarian myself, and at my bat mitzvah, I will be talking about reasons we have for making different decisions in life including my deciding to become a vegetarian.

I am so excited to celebrate with everybody this Shabbat. I am very thankful to have all my family and friends coming from near and far to join me. I am also excited to be sharing this occasion with my Beth Sholom family. I look forward to seeing everyone this Shabbat to join me and my family at this simcha.

Eva Leavitt's Bat Mitzvah

Facebook_EvaLeavittShalom. My name is Eva Sivan Leavitt and I’m a seventh grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. I am looking forward to my bat mitzvah, which will take place this Saturday, March 18.

I've been part of the Beth Sholom community since preschool, and now I’m entering the adult community. My portion is about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, and Aaron making the golden calf.

Some of my hobbies are art and cooking, and I also sing in a chorus. I have lived in Israel for a year, and I love traveling. Traveling gives me a chance to see the world in a different way and to learn about other people and cultures.

I think that to enter adulthood is to learn more about yourself and not so much about reaching a milestone or becoming a certain age. I think that each person has a different path to entering adulthood.

I want to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me with my drash, and to Noa Bar for teaching me my Torah portion and my haftarah.

Myles Sloan's Bar Mitzvah

facebook_mylessloanShalom! My name is Myles and I am in 7th grade at the Brandeis School of San Francisco. I like to read, hang out with my friends, play video games, rock climb (both indoors and outdoors), and ski.

I am excited and a little nervous to share my bar mitzvah with my family, friends, and the Beth Sholom community.

The parsha that I will be chanting is one that everyone, no matter their religion or age, knows - Parashat Noach. In it, G-d tells Noah that he's the only righteous man left. He instructs him to build an ark and to fill it with two of every animal. G-d floods the earth for forty days and forty nights. Noah then sends out a dove to find dry land where mankind and the animals can start again. After many generations, Noah's descendants multiply and build the Tower of Babel. G-d sees this as an act of hubris and knocks down the tower. G-d also scatters their languages, hence the name, Tower of Babel (from the Hebrew word balal, meaning "to jumble.").

I would like to thank my parents for giving me their unconditional love and support. I would also like to thank Marilyn Heiss, my bar mitzvah tutor, for teaching me how to chant Torah so beautifully. I would like to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me write my drash and for our interesting discussion. And thank you to my Congregation Beth Sholom community for being part of my life since I was born.

Max Billick's Bar Mitzvah

facebook_maxbillickMy name is Max Billick, I’m a seventh-grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. I’m interested in politics, history, constitutional law, world languages, Talmud, and cooking.

This Shabbat – on the fourth day of Sukkot Chol HaMoed – I will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. On the occasion of my bar mitzvah, I will be recognized as a member of this community and brought into the covenant.

On Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot we will be reading from Parashat Ki Tissa. In the parsha, G-d commands Moses to conduct a census. After the census, G-d gives two tablets to Moses on which Moses inscribes the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the Israelites decide to make a golden calf. G-d is displeased about this but Moses is able to convince G-d to not forsake the covenant. When Moses saw this for himself, he was enraged and broke the tablets. He pleaded with G-d again not to forsake the covenant, and again carved tablets that he inscribed the Ten Commandments upon.

I want to thank my tutor Noa Bar, for helping me prepare for my bar mitzvah, and Rabbi Glazer for his invaluable help in preparing my d’var Torah.

Simona Lewis' Bat Mitzvah

SimonaLewisHello. 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 tefillin bat mitzvah at CBS this Thursday, September 8, during morning minyan (7 a.m.).

Lola Schnaider's Bat Mitzvah

LolaShalom! My name is Lola Schnaider, and I am a 7th grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco! I enjoy dancing, playing sports, photography, and listening to lots of music. I love to travel and be out in nature with my friends and family. In a few short days, I will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah. To me, becoming a bat mitzvah means accepting my responsibilities as the newest member of the Jewish community, and figuring out my Jewish identity.

I will be reading from Parashat Naso, which is found in the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar. Several topics come up in my parsha including rules pertaining to contact with lepers, adultery, the nazarite vow, and the sacred, threefold Priestly blessing.

The topic that interests me the most is that of the sotah, which translates as "gone astray." Sotah is a ritual test that occurs when a husband suspects his wife of adultery. The wife must drink a mixture of clay and dirt from the floor of the Tabernacle, to prove her innocence or guilt. In my drash, I will offer a feminist perspective on the topic of sotah, as it relates and compares to our lives today. I am honored to be having my bat mitzvah at Congregation Beth Sholom, and I am thrilled to have my family and friends by my side.

I hope to see you all there!

Elise Taubman's Bat Mitzvah

EliseShalom! 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.

Joseph Neyman's Bar Mitzvah

JosephNeymanBarMitzvahphotoShalom! My name is Joseph Neyman. I am a seventh grade student at the Brandeis School in San Francisco. Just like every teenage guy, I love sports. My favorites are skateboarding, swimming, soccer, skiing, and water polo. I also enjoy video games and hanging out with my friends. When I’m not doing any of these or in school, I spend time with my parents watching movies, eating out, and doing non-fun teenager stuff like reading.

Over the many months that I have been studying for my bar mitzvah, I have learned valuable skills like not giving up easily, managing my time effectively, and having lots of patience. I have grown to enjoy practicing for my special day. I think that my bar mitzvah is not only about chanting the Torah and leading services, but also about receiving a greater role in the Jewish community and learning the responsibilities of being an adult. Last year, I joined the Youth Tzedek program at SF Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which has workshops about leadership and values. But more important than those were the opportunities I had to help families who are in need by putting together supplies and necessities, preparing meals, and helping to deliver goods each Jewish holiday.

This week I will be sharing an extremely special day with my friends, family, and the Beth Sholom community. I will be called up to the Torah to become an adult. I will be reading from Parashat Tazria. My parsha is about the laws related to a leprous skin disease called tza’arat. Even if this parsha talks about ancient skin disease that no longer affecting us, the core message is still relevant in our modern world. I hope you can join us this Shabbat.

A big thank you to Rabbi Glazer for helping me understand my parsha and for helping me with my drash, and to Marilyn Heiss, my teacher, for teaching me trope, and to my parents who are always there for me.

Aidan Swan's Bar Mitzvah

DSC_0111Hello, my name is Aidan Swan. I am a seventh grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco. I enjoy sports, and my favorites are basketball, baseball, golf, and rock climbing. I also like to watch the Warriors and Giants, hang out with my friends, and travel. I am very excited that this Shabbat is my bar mitzvah and my parsha is Ki Tissa. I’m looking forward to sharing this day with friends, family, and members of the congregation.

My portion is filled with mistakes and lessons. Moses goes up Mount Sinai to talk to G-d and, while he is gone, the people make a golden calf to worship. When Moses comes back and sees what has happened, he is so angry that he smashes the tablets G-d has just presented him with. So much more happens, but you'll need to come on Saturday if you want to hear about it!

I have loved studying for my bar mitzvah. Thank you to Rabbi Glazer for being a great help in understanding my parsha and helping me write my drash. Thank you to my amazing tutor, Batshir, who helped me learn my haftarah and Torah portions and made studying a great experience. Thank you to my family for being there every step of the way, and for always supporting me and encouraging me.