B’nai Mitzvah

Katherine Marguerite Zinn

Katherine Marguerite Zinn, daughter of Erin Samuels, will celebrate becoming a bat mitzvah on May 14 at Temple Emanu-El. She is the granddaughter of Elizabeth Samuels of Tucson and Douglas Woods of Shepardsville, Ky. Katie attends Pistor Middle School where she is in honors classes, on the yearbook committee,… Read more »

‘Thirteeners’ celebrate, commemorate b’nai mitzvah

(L-R): Congregation Chaverim cantorial soloist Diana Povolotskaya, Cynthia Busby, Ellie Maas, Bill Kugelman, Barbara Holtzman, Michael Lex and Rabbi Stephanie Aaron. The first and second time b’nai mitzvah celebrants, dubbed ‘Thirteeners,’ range in age from Maas, 26, to Kugelman, 91. (Michael Miklofsky)

When Mike Lex turned 13 he did not celebrate becoming a bar mitzvah. He grew up in a remote part of Wyoming, a place where he says as a Jew he was in a tiny minority and because his parents did not practice, his 13th birthday came and went.… Read more »

Local teens b’nai mitzvah projects reflect love of art, camp, pets and shul

Roxanne Frankenberg

Young teenagers at Tucson synagogues work hard to prepare for their b’nai mitzvah ceremonies. In addition to learning to chant Torah and Haftorah, and prepare and deliver a sermon, these motivated young people commit hours and energy to charitable causes in their community and beyond. In a spirit of… Read more »

Local B’nai Mitzvah students serve community, world with diverse projects

Aliya Markowitz with Cubby Graham, charity: water school partnerships manager, at the organization’s office in New York City

In the spirit of infusing the ethic of tikkun olam, repairing the world, into the process of becoming  B’nai Mitzvah, many synagogues now require their students to complete a mitzvah project in addition to learning Hebrew and chanting from the Torah. Students typically choose their own projects based on… Read more »

B’nai Mitzvah projects reach beyond Tucson

Ryan Ballis, center, with award from the Wounded Warrior Project, is flanked by Quentin Irion, the group’s outreach coordinator (left) and Derek L. Duplisea, Wounded Warrior alumni director for the Western United States. (Courtesy Mark Ballis)

Each year, caring and energetic 12- and 13-year-olds contribute immeasurably to the social action efforts of the Jewish community in Tucson and around the world. These B’nai Mitzvah students participate in a “mitzvah project,” as these endeavors have come to be known, adding another layer of meaning to the… Read more »

Media making a difference

“The Last Bully: Stopping Epidemics of Violence” is the 2013-14 theme of the first Media Making a Difference film series, sponsored by the Aurora Foundation, Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, Loft Cinema and the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. “Submit the Documentary: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying” will… Read more »

Health and wellness, food and hunger issues spur B’nai Mitzvah projects

Gavin Cohen with his cousin, Trinity Hungerford

Every year dozens of Tucson teens who turn 13 choose a cause to support — through deeds, funds or both — as they prepare for the ceremonies and celebrations that mark their coming of age as B’nai Mitzvah. These mitzvah projects, as they’ve come to be known, assist a… Read more »

Alexis Sokoloff: Local Bat Mitzvah celebrant rises above special needs

Alexis Sokoloff holds the Torah at her Bat Mitzvah ceremony (Courtesy Gwen Sokolof)

Fourteen-year-old Alexis Sokoloff smiles as she recalls her Bat Mitzvah on June 9. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” she told the AJP. “I really love learning Hebrew.” Sokoloff was born with Down syndrome, but with the support of her parents, Gwen and Mitchell Sokoloff, and her younger sister, Rebecka,… Read more »

From hunger to bullying, local teens tackle social issues with hands-on mitzvah projects

Noah Pensak (left) and Jacob Meyer donate books to the Ocotillo Learning Center library. (Courtesy Ocotillo Learning Center)

It started as a novel way to teach Jewish children about philanthropy, social justice and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Today, the mitzvah project has become a cherished part of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah scene. Yet for each child who chooses to take part in this burgeoning tradition,… Read more »

Mitzvah projects empower teens — and provide food, enrichment for others

Koby Shochat wears the tallit his father wore at his Bar Mitzvah. Koby’s mitzvah project involved donations of used tallitot.

One of the explicit and implicit tenets of Judaism is that we are supposed to live our lives doing mitzvot, literally translated as “commandments” but informally known as “good deeds.” In addition to the usual whirlwind of activity associated with B’nai Mitzvah preparation, such as learning Torah, attending services,… Read more »