Gabriela Bernstein's Bat Mitzvah

Hello! My name is Gabriela (Gabi) Bernstein, and I am a seventh grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco as well as a life-long member of Congregation Beth Sholom. I enjoy reading, writing, art projects, theater stage design and listening to Broadway show tunes. I also perform with a singing group called Trebles at my school.

On Saturday May 26, I will be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. I will be chanting from Parashat Naso, in the book of Numbers. The material is a giant pile of topics, all smushed together into one monster Torah portion.

The reading starts with a Levite census and details about their Tabernacle duties. We go on to learn what to do with someone who has leprosy (simple: banish them) and then, we learn about the Nazarites and their duties and abstentions. Finally, we get to the Priestly Blessing and the offerings that Tribal leaders brought to the Tabernacle. This is a lot to cover in one Torah portion, but there was one topic that stood out to me more than the others. You’ll have to come to services this Shabbat to find out which one it was!

I have found myself enjoying this process of learning trope and studying Torah. I’m excited (and nervous) for my family and friends to see me chant from the Torah and become a Bat Mitzvah.

I realize that this process would have been impossible without the support of so many. I want to thank Rabbi Batshir Torchio for guiding me on this journey over the past year, helping me learn not only to chant Torah and Haftorah, but also to find meaning in these texts. I’m also grateful to Rebecca Goodman and all the Rabbis and educators who have taught me at the preschool and religious school through the years.  Thanks as well to the staff at Congregation Beth Sholom for making this weekend possible! Thank you to my older siblings, Rafi and Daniela, for their constant support and encouragement; it was comforting for me to know they had also been through the B’nai Mitzvah process. Last but not least, thank you to my parents for being clear about how important being Jewish (and having a Bat Mitzvah) is and not letting me forget it with (gentle) nagging and (loving) speeches.