On Saturday, May 11, at 3 PM, Barbara will be one of 22 students ranging from 69 to 97 years old who will celebrate their B’nei Mitzvah together at Temple Emanuel in Newton. Residents from all four 2Life campuses are participating, and it’s interesting to note that 21 of these students are women.
This Jewish B’nei Mitzvah ceremony marks the beginning of adulthood, and is usually celebrated at age 12 (for girls) or 13 (for boys). But girls in the United States have only regularly been included in the ritual since the 1960s, and many of our female students watched their brothers and sons celebrate this milestone but were excluded themselves.
Barbara and her classmates began studying for their B'nei Mitzvah in September of 2018, guided by rabbinic intern Giulia Fleishman of Hebrew College. We're grateful to the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, which has generously funded Giulia's work with us for the second year in a row. She and the students have spent several hours a week learning to read or chant their Hebrew parts, writing minisermons, even hand-making wine cups and prayer shawls to use during the service.
While Barbara keeps her precious granddaughters in mind while she studies, each student is driven by very personal reasons for becoming B’nei Mitzvah at this point in life. “One woman told me that after her husband passed, she was adrift. Joining this class anchored her, and helped her navigate her grief,” says Cindy Katzeff, Director of Village Centers and Community Engagement, who came up with the idea of a group ceremony. “Another said that when she was younger, raising a family and running a household, spirituality wasn’t a priority for her. Now, it’s as though she’s found a door inside herself that she didn’t know existed, and she’s finding deep meaning and satisfaction in exploring this side of herself.”
Family and friends are traveling from all over the country to witness this event, and we’ll be providing transportation to and from each of our campuses so that students’ neighbors can share in the celebration. We’d love to see you there too!
If you’d like to make a gift to 2Life Communities in honor of the 2019 2Life B’Nei Mitzvah class, please visit www.2lifecommunities.org/donate. Contributions will support the extensive programs and services that help 2Life residents age affordably and live well.