Mazel Tov to Our B'nei Mitzvah Students



Anshei Mitzvah
Anne Lord
April 19, 2014
Special Torah Portion for Chol Ha’moed Pesach

 I was born and grew up in Miami, Florida.  Both of my parents were Jewish and I was surrounded by Jewish friends, but we were never members of a synagogue nor did I become a Bat Mitzvah.  I joined NFTY (the URJ Youth Group) in high school, and later met my husband as a camp counselor at URJ Camp Coleman.  I went to many services over those years, but because I was never taught to read Hebrew, I read the transliteration.  Seeing everyone else able to read, what looked to me like pretty pictures was like sitting as an outsider looking in.  I finally decided that I did not want to feel that way anymore....so; I learned to read Hebrew too!  That left me wanting to learn more.  I started studying the Jewish prayers with Barbara Feld.  It was really Barbara who inspired me to seize the moment.  When it comes time for my children to have their B'nei Mitzvah, I hope not only to help them practice...but that I have also set an example for them. 


Anshei Mitzvah
Richard Simmons
April 19, 2014
Special Torah Portion for Chol Ha’moed Pesach

     I often thought the first time I read to my mother was important.  Since then I have had important occurrences such as my marriage, graduating from college, the birth of my wonderful children and attending Torah study.  But, the most important event in my life has been my conversion to Judaism.  I had come to realize that I am a soul and what a precious thing that is to be responsible for: one’s soul on this earth by action and deed.
     This day is now the second most important as I assume responsibility to practice Halakha (Jewish law).  Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and non religious life.  Jewish religious tradition does not distinguish clearly between national, racial or ethnic identities as we are all identified as one people as a community of like believers.
     I came to Judaism after a long spiritual search that took many decades of study and introspection.  That understanding and realization is one type of necessary recognition in one's life and place.  In the scheme of things, what speaks to me is about how one treats our fellow man and how we act every minute of every day to live the best life possible.
     At that point I really appreciated my religion, my family and was happy with who I was.  What we have far exceeds the things of this existence.  So, 'Live life as you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of but pass through other's lives leaving a good memory of you and your love for them.'


Anshei Mitzvah
Sam Foster
April 19, 2014
Special Torah Portion for Chol Ha’moed Pesach

     After my conversion at Temple Beth El in the Fall of 2011, I realized that I needed to take more Hebrew Language classes to make Shul more meaningful. Also, I was considering if I could meet the challenge of becoming an Anshei Mitzvah. 
For me, Anshei Mitzvah ranks on a par with Conversion.  And so, I continued Hebrew classes at Temple Beth El.  Further, I discovered that with this learning process I now have a better grasp of Hebrew and a deeper understanding of Torah and the Siddur prayers.  Hopefully in becoming Anshei Mitzvah I will be more at ease when I am honored with future aliyahs to the Bimah.
I am a long time social activist and have been connected to our Temple Beth El family since 2007.  


Anshei Mitzvah
Peggy McManus
April 19, 2014
Special Torah Portion for Chol Ha’moed Pesach

     After I learned to read Hebrew and studied the prayers, I began to feel a closer connection to Torah and the G-d of our ancestors.  My husband brought me to Judaism and Temple Beth El so I am completing this journey in his memory.   His eyes lit up when I told him about studying Hebrew and becoming Bat Mitzvah.  I’ve been a member of Temple Beth El since 1997 and a member of the staff as the receptionist.





Zack Benson
April 26, 2014
Parashat Kedoshim

     I am becoming Bar Mitzvah because it is a tradition.  It is part of the Jewish religion and part of my family tradition. My father became a Bar Mitzvah.  My grandfather became a Bar Mitzvah.  I am proud of being Jewish.  The Jewish people are not as big as other religions.  I like being different. There are more holidays in Judaism.   Learning Torah for this day was a little challenging.  I am thankful I’ve done it because I know my service will be meaningful.   I hope to continue staying involved after my Bar Mitzvah by going to services and celebrating holidays with my family.
     For my mitzvah project I will work with kids at the Reid Park Academy with my sister and family.  This community school needs lots of volunteers for reading and being an example to the students.  I love to read so hopefully I can share this skill with these kids.  Many Reid Park students need food for the weekends because their families struggle to make ends meet.  We will make healthy lunches and snacks for them to take home in backpacks.  They also have Reid Park Family Nights, so I am sure we will help with any activities for these school events too!
     Zack is the son of Tiz and Ben Benson.  He is the grandson of the Marilyn and Eddie Benson of Greensboro, NC and the late Natalie and Bill Faison of Charlotte.  He is the sibling of Natalie.
Words of Mazel Tov can be sent to benandtiz@earthlink.net.





Natalie Benson
April 26, 2014
Parashat Kedoshim

     I always knew that I would become a Bat Mitzvah.  I can’t tell you exactly why.  I’ve gone to Religious School since I was in Kindergarten. I always thought it was the coolest thing in the world to have a Bat Mitzvah.  I am glad I’ve done it because it has been a really great experience. It makes me different from most people.  I have worked really hard for this day and learned all the prayers.  I have never been so dedicated to anything like this.  I am proud.  I want to become madricha in B'nei Mitzvah tutoring.
     For my mitzvah project I will volunteer at Reid Park Academy, which is a community school needing lots of help for the students.  As a volunteer, I will read to and work with the students as needed.  I also hope to help to make meals for the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Backpack Program at Reid Park.  This program was created for kids needing healthy food and snacks over the weekends and during school holidays.  Knowing that these kids need this help shows me how lucky I am to have food in the pantry to eat without worrying about how much it costs.
     Natalie is the daughter of Tiz and Ben Benson.  She is the granddaughter of the Marilyn and Eddie Benson of Greensboro, NC and the late Natalie and Bill Faison of Charlotte. She is the sibling of Zack.
Words of Mazel Tov can be sent to benandtiz@earthlink.net.