11 adults celebrate adult b’nai mitzvah at Shearith
Photo: Hazzan Itzhak Zhrebker/Shearith Israel
The Shearith Israel adult b’nai mitzvah class: back row, from left, Rachel Stock, Guadalupe Topletz, Susan Cedars, Deborah Rosenfeld, IJ “Cookie” Corn and Shelley Meyers Mitzner; front row, Gabriela Aviram, Shaun Medows, Ann Cobert and Cyvia Noble; not pictured, Len Cedars

Two years ago, a group of 11 adults came together to study for their adult b’nai mitzvah. Class member IJ “Cookie” Corn reflected on their myriad reasons. “For me,” she began, “I missed my bat mitzvah the first go-round; others who were Jews by choice had a desire to supplement and deepen their commitment to Judaism, to serve as helpers and examples for their own young children. Still others, who had been bar or bat mitzvahed at the age-appropriate time, came seeking reinforcement and rededication, a chance to reaffirm the beauty and meaning of the ritual; a way to continue to honor the memory of a loved one, and perhaps add to their knowledge along the way.” 

The class began in person under the direction of Hazzan Itzhak Zhrebker, Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Rabbi Adam Roffman and Tamar Leventhal. After beginning their studies in person, the class moved nearly seamlessly to virtual learning during the pandemic. “Zoom actually helped us focus,” Cookie explained, “but the downside was not having the chance to bond as a group.”

Fortunately, on Shabbat morning, May 15, the class was able to come back together and enjoy their b’nai mitzvah in person, along with the Shearith community!

Another student, Rachel Stock, wrote, “I had my first Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 years old. But our Hebrew school had tons of kids so girls had Bat Mitzvot on Friday nights and boys had Bar Mitzvot on Saturday mornings. A few years ago, my older daughter had her Bat Mitzvah, and I was so proud of all she learned and how she was treated equally to boys her age. So, when I joined the class, I was determined to ‘really’ learn the Saturday morning service and re-learn many of the things my aging brain had forgotten over the years. I also wanted to set a good example for my daughters.” Rachel went on to say, “I enjoyed these two years of learning and studying with this amazing group and it deepened my connection to my faith, G-d, and the Jewish people.” 

—Submitted by

Julie Carpenter

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