Celebrations/Weddings

Tucson teens’ b’nai mitzvah projects celebrate community, giving

The b’nai mitzvah project has become an important part of the traditional coming of age ritual for many Jewish teens. Whether they volunteer in the local community or raise funds for a worthy cause, it’s a chance to exercise compassion and responsibility. Sometimes, it’s also a lesson in flexibility,… Read more »

Mega Challah Bake: a celebration of bread, from Tucson to Bosnia

Hundreds of women and girls gathered at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Thursday, Sept. 26, for the sixth annual Mega Challah Bake, co-sponsored by Chabad Tucson. Participants learned how to make and shape dough for round challahs in advance of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, enjoyed a buffet of… Read more »

Finding Grace: A lifelong journey to discovering what is meant to be

Interfaith minister Grace Hartman blesses pets (Courtesy Grace Hartman)

Growing up in a Conservative Jewish home in Newton, Massachusetts, with her parents and brother, Lois Gail Esterman did all the right things. She attended Hebrew school through eighth grade, became a bat mitzvah, went to Hebrew high school and a Hebrew teacher’s college. She started her career as… Read more »

Find hidden treasures in synagogue gift shops

Tammy Strobel stands before colorful gift items on display at Congregation Anshei Israel’s gift shop. (Yvonne Ethier)

A few years back, my good friend Fran was giving me details on her upcoming adult bat mitzvah. “No gifts,” she said emphatically. As I smiled and nodded, inwardly my mind was abuzz — where could I find the perfect present? I didn’t have to look far. In what… Read more »

Tucson groom enlists support of Toby, the cat, for proposal to his bride

(L-R): Bruce and Donna Beyer, Amy and Thomas Allen Brannock, and Billie and Thomas Brannock at Skyline Country Club, Oct. 20, 2018 (Steven Palm Photography)

Amy Rebecca Beyer, daughter of Bruce and Donna Beyer of Tucson, and Thomas Allen Brannock, son of Thomas and Billie Brannock of St. David, Arizona, were married on Oct. 20, 2018, at Skyline Country Club with Rabbi Batsheva Appel officiating. Attendants included Lisa Beyer of San Francisco, sister of… Read more »

Some traditions are waiting to be broken

Ellie Chestnut and David Abram take a stroll during their wedding in Brooklyn, New York. (Lorie Kleiner Eckert)

At the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, there is the dramatic moment in which a wine glass (wrapped in a napkin) is placed on the ground. The groom stomps on and shatters the wine glass as the assembled guests shout their congratulations, “Mazel tov!” There are many interpretations… Read more »

Israelis are throwing themselves one-of-a kind weddings in nature

Shani and Ran Maaman embrace under the huppah at their wedding in the Judean Desert, May 11, 2017. (Dana Bar-On)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – In this tiny country, there are only so many places to have a wedding. Or so you would think. But a growing number of Israelis are creating one-of-a-kind outdoor weddings from the ground up. In some cases, they even start with the ground. “We brought in bulldozers for one couple,” said Ori Fuks, an Israeli… Read more »

Local teens bring passion, talent and caring to b’nai mitzvah projects

David Jurkowitz plays piano for residents of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging on Sept. 22. [Courtesy Lisa Jurkowitz)

For Jewish teens, a bar or bat mitzvah project is an opportunity to learn more about their responsibilities as Jewish adults. It’s a  hands-on way to learn the meaning of tikkun olam (repairing the world), and serve the community in personally meaningful ways. Several Tucson Jewish teens shared with… Read more »

Party planning 101: know your budget and guest list, local experts say

Planning a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah party, or another big occasion? Experts suggest you start by determining your budget, dates and the number of guests you plan to invite. That may sound fairly obvious, but Marci Rogers, director of sales at the Tucson Hilton East, says all too… Read more »

The Beautiful Meaning Behind My Daughter’s Nontraditional Bat Mitzvah

The writer, right, watching her daughter during her bat mitzvah. (Courtesy of Julie Wiener)

(Kveller via JTA) — At my daughter’s bat mitzvah last month, hundreds of people spread out to form a large circle and, together, carefully hold a completely unrolled Torah scroll. With the scroll spread out so that its entire contents were visible, my daughter found the spot on the… 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 »

Valentine’s Day: An ideal date for Jewish weddings?

This kippah will be distributed at the wedding of Lena Silver and Aaron Wolfson. (Courtesy of Silver and Wolfson)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — In December, around the time my wife and I were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, we received an invitation to an outdoor Jewish wedding to be held on Valentine’s Day 2016. Printed on a red postcard affixed with a heart postage stamp, the couple, Lena Silver… 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 »

Tucson tallit artist: ‘Everything is generated by story’

The Rosh Hashanah-inspired pomegranate tallit Beth Surdut created for Rabbi Malka Drucker of Santa Fe, N.M., includes a quote from Psalm 96.

From Providence, R.I., to Santa Fe, N.M., to Tucson, with many stops in between, tallit maker Beth Surdut has always been an artist. Her approach to Judaism is as expansive as her art, always growing and changing. “Being brought up Jewish you’re brought up to have an inquiring mind,”… Read more »