• What The Mitzvah Means To NYC Parents

    Four moms reflect on their children’s bar and bat mitzvahs.

    By New York Family
    Marla Trugerman, Mother of three:
    “I was thrilled to help my two oldest daughters with their bat mitzvah studies. I was brought up in the conservative tradition and studied for my bat mitzvah and confirmation. I was happy that I could still read Hebrew and remember all the prayers and songs. Although children are 12 or 13 years old during their bar and bat mitzvah preparations, and don’t always acknowledge the auspicious nature of the moment, I know that my children will appreciate the accomplishment as they get older.”

    Elysa Newman, Mother of three:
    “Going through this process with my older daughter allowed me to reflect upon my own upbringing. Although my mother is not Jewish, I was raised in the Jewish faith. However, all the traditions were not woven into my everyday life. I did not have a bat mitzvah, so I was not connected to the idea of passing on this tradition to the next generation. Now, my husband and I care very much about instilling a strong Jewish background in our children. My oldest daughter just celebrated her bat mitzvah. This unique experience really makes you think about yourself and your identity, and it allows you and your family to solidify your relationship to the religion so that it becomes a part of who you are.”

    Dr. Debra Mesnick, Mother of two:
    “I recently returned from a nine-day mission to Israel with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (jwrp.org). This group, which offers almost fully subsidized missions to Israel for over 1,000 women each year, presents lectures filled with spirituality and values that the women can bring back home to their families. I met incredible women from all over the world and we learned about the State of Israel as well as parenting from the Jewish perspective. In preparing for my son’s bar mitzvah in a few years, my husband and I want to set the example that Jewish learning is lifelong learning. We want to model and reinforce the idea that their bar and bat mitzvahs are not the end but really just the beginning of their spiritual travels.”

    Melissa Saperstein, Mother of three:
    “I am very active in my synagogue, I attend Shabbat, and my children attended a synagogue preschool. Yet I didn’t have a bat mitzvah during my teenage years and I didn’t grow up going to synagogue. I felt like I was missing something, so I celebrated an adult bat mitzvah just recently. I started by taking a beginner Hebrew class so I could participate more fully in services, and then my commitment evolved into the adult b’nai mitzvah class. We became educated together, we did a group mitzvah project, and a few of us with similarly aged children travelled to New Orleans with our families on a synagogue service learning trip. We have even talked with our rabbi about continuing on to Confirmation! There is definitely a ripple effect for children to see their parents working hard and learning more about Judaism.”

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