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A Different Batmitzvah Event


Written by Osnat Sheffler and Nina Zuck

Photos by Orna Mekona

Celebrating the batmitzvahs of the 12-year old girls in ESRA's Students Build a Community Project in Netanya has been a tradition for eight years.

This year, we were preparing to celebrate in March as usual, but the Corona virus brought us to a force majeure. The girls were so disappointed that we decided to hold a slightly alternative event as soon as the government guidelines permitted. 

Jakey Lichterman

The sponsor of the event deserves special mention. Jakey Lichterman celebrated his barmitzvah in San Francisco in May 2020. As his barmitzvah project was for "tikun olam" – a project practiced in most Jewish schools in the US, he heard about the ESRA batmitzvah project and decided that this would be his special gift. Jakey set up a Facebook page with a description, photos and videos from ESRA's previous batmitzvah events and raised all the funds to cover the whole event. He was so happy to see that his barmitzvah celebration (which was eventually held on Zoom), enabled him to bring joy to 21 batmitzvah girls in Israel.

On June 24, in the afternoon, under strict Corona guidelines, students and volunteers arrived at the Nordau neighborhood youth club, thanks to Arye Doron Manager of the Community Center, and began to set up an outside event for exactly 50 people – the maximum allowed. Tables were decorated with bright cloths and huge balloon flowers and within a short time the club's outdoor space became a real event garden.

The girls and their mothers, dressed in their finery and hidden behind Corona masks, arrived and were greeted at the reception with personal "Sweet Memory Notebooks" with a cover picture of each of girls. The excitement was great as they all spent the next 15 minutes writing blessings in each others' books.

Shiri Haguel, Deputy Mayor of Netanya, opened the evening with a blessing for the girls and then followed ESRA's signature workshop of preparing Shabbat candle holders. Mothers and daughters worked hard together to get the best and brightest polish on their beautiful stone holders.

Shaked Aleza and Ortal Ayena, two young SBC pupils who are studying voice control and singing in ESRA's Volume Music Center, gave a polished performance of "Ma She At Ohevet" (Only What You Like) with the audience clapping and singing along. The words are perfect for beginner teenagers!

The ceremony of lighting the batmitzvah candles was a very moving part with each student giving an emotional and meaningful farewell to her pupils – many of whom had been with their student for 3-4 years. Each child then presented her mother with a beautifully wrapped flower in thanks and appreciation. The girls all received a designer bracelet, graciously donated by Natali Jewelry Design, and a framed poster of the group to hang on their walls.

The celebration ended with pizza, a delicious cake and boutique desserts made by Fefi Levi, the provider of ESRA's pastry making course at the Neot Shaked Community Center. And then there was some music and dancing under the guidance of Yitzhak Tamano, well known DJ and ESRA scholarship student who donated his time to making the evening a joyous event.

All the attendees, ESRA members, the students, the project coordinators, the girls and their mothers of course, went home energized and excited by sharing in such a joyful occasion in this challenging time where Corona is King. 



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Saturday, 18 May 2024

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