Mazel Tov to Our B'nei Mitzvah Students

Hannah Eccleston
Parashat Matot
July 19, 2014

     Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means a lot to me. I know that by having my Bat Mitzvah I will be closer to G-d and closer to the Jewish community. In Sheva I have gained extra knowledge about things that I did not know even existed. I was able to voice my opinion and even learn about Israeli music. Sheva encouraged me to keep learning about Judaism. I am definitely going to stay involved with Temple. I am going to be a Madricha and a B’nei Mitzvah tutor. I also want to join the teen vocal ensemble and JewTube, and maybe in 9th grade be a part of the Hebrew High student council. I plan to keep learning about Judaism by going to Hebrew High. I can also learn about Jewish current events. I plan to pass Judaism onto others by educating my sister and other Jewish kids at Temple.  Being Jewish means many things to me. Number one: It is a way to express myself and be unique. Number two: I can keep my community and school diverse and educated about other cultures.
      My Mitzvah project was working at Mitey Riders. Mitey Riders is a program that teaches special needs kids how to ride horses. It was an amazing experience. I was so happy because I got to work with kids. Even though it meant getting there really early, I chose this project because it hits close to home. My neighbors, who are here today, have a son who has Aspergers. He is one of my best friends. I think that what I got out of this project was understanding. Sometimes, at school, kids who have special needs get weird looks or are even bullied. This program brings them all together. They can feel like they have a safe place to go to where everyone is like them. I just wish that it could be like that all of the time for them.
     Hannah is the daughter of Randi and Jon Eccleston Hannah is the granddaughter of Vicki and Irwin Smolin of Charlotte, N.C., Georgiann Eccleston of Glenburn , P.A. , and the late Jon W. Eccleston of Hoboken, N.J. Hannah is the sister of Emma Eccleston.
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Eliza Weidner
Parashat Matot
July 19, 2014

     I have been on a journey to Bat Mitzvah my whole life.  I went the Jewish Preschool on Sardis and I have been in Religious School since Kindergarten.  I’ve been involved with LIBERTY this past year and went to Hatikvah Kallah and other events.   I’m proud to be Jewish because it’s different. Most of my friends are not Jewish so it’s cool. I plan on being a part of Hebrew High, being a madrichah in the Religious School, and going to more Youth Group events.  I am considering being a B’nei Mitzvah madrichah, as well.  In preparing for this day, I learned Hebrew and I learned much more about what it means to be a Jew.
     For my Mitzvah Project, I volunteered for Freedom School at my school. I was able to work with all of the children by playing games, doing fun educational activities, and so much more. I enjoyed spending time with all of the children and seeing the smiles on their faces when they saw me and the other volunteers. I love being with children and being able to help others, so it was a great way to give back to the community while having fun. By participating in Providence Day’s Freedom School, I fulfilled the mitzvot of  teaching children and helping the needy.
     Eliza is the daughter of Gregory and Julianne Weidner, the granddaughter of Faya and George Falwell and Robert and Katherine Weidner. She is the sibling of Olivia and Griffin Weidner.
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Nathan Cataldo
Parashat D’varim
August 2, 2014

     Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means I take my place in the Jewish community as a person who has responsibilities to contribute. Through Sheva and preparing for my Bar Mitzvah I learned the value of hard work and sticking with various yearlong commitments that were part of the process.  As a Jewish adult, I plan to be involved in activities through temple and community wherever I live.  I will keep learning about Judaism by maintaining Jewish friendships and role models and teaching my non-Jewish friends what our religion offers the world.  To me being Jewish means standing up for what you believe even when you are the minority.  It also means doing good in the world as its own reward.
     My Mitzvah project was working at the Miracle League, a baseball league for handicapped children. These kids were matched with Buddies, like me, whose job it was to help them play the game. If in a wheelchair, I would assist them in swinging their bat and wheeling around the bases. If an emotional or cognitive disability, I would assist them in feeling less anxious on the field. I learned so much about what I take for granted as an able-bodied boy in the world from these hardworking and persistent children. I fulfilled the mitzvah of removing the stumbling block from before the blind.
     Nathan Cataldo is the son of Rebecca Weisenthal and Michael Cataldo.  He is the grandson of the late Lee and Fredrika Weisenthal, of Huntington Woods, Michigan, and the late Martin Cataldo of Boston, Massachusetts, may all of their memories be for blessings. He is also the grandson of Muriel Cataldo of Boston, and the honorary grandson of Janice Booth of Annapolis, Maryland.
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Sophia Hansen
Parashat D’varim
August 2, 2014

     To become a Bat Mitzvah is very important. It makes me someone who is special and unique because I can say that I am part of a religion of very few people. I have learned so much from Sheva while preparing for this, like getting a more in depth sense of our history and how it influences us today. As I continue to study Judaism and all it has to offer, I hope to go to Hebrew High and join the Teen Vocal Ensemble. I also hope to one day teach other young Jewish adults these prayers. Being Jewish means that I am a unique person with a religion that excites me and promotes many opportunities to learn new things about myself and about who I am as a Jew. I want to one day teach my children the wonderful things that everyone here has taught me.
     For my Mitzvah Project, I worked with kids at Sterling Elementary. Before this, I had worked at Sterling during the summer with my brother as part of his community service hours, and I fell in love with the kids there. We got to help with tutoring and we played sports with them. I chose this again because I love working with kids, and this is how I can help build up the next generation of adults. I got so much out of it by being with kids with less than what I have, and I learned to appreciate all that I am fortunate to have. These kids had less than most of us, but they gave the brightest smiles I have ever seen. It was an unforgettable experience, and I wish to work with them again.
     Sophia Hansen is the daughter of Emily Chatham and David Hansen - and the sister of Alexandra and Gabriel, ages 23 and 16. She is the granddaughter of Betty Jean Chatham of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and Dr. Don Chatham (of blessed memory), and Angie and Arthur Hansen, (both of blessed memory).
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Carolyn Simpson
Parashat Pinchas
July 12, 2014

     It means a lot to me that I am growing up in Judaism and keeping my faith with me. I am now a Jewish adult, which means I am growing older, and so my Judaism is growing with me too. Thanks to Sheva, I now know the deeper meaning of becoming a Jewish adult and what being Jewish really means. I now know more about what it means to be Jewish. I plan to attend Hebrew High, which will allow me to become a madrichah. Being a madrichah means helping the teachers and students in classes during Religious School. I will continue to come to services, and in the future, when I have a family, I plan to bring them to synagogue too. Being Jewish means being different. We have our own languages, we even read differently. There are so many things that are different, which makes me feel unique.
     My Mitzvah Project is helping out at my volleyball camp with the younger players. I chose to do this because I love playing volleyball, and I can help them become better players. It will help me become a better player also because I get to play volleyball and see what teamwork really looks like when I start to play with them. I am fulfilling the mitzvah of removing the stumbling block from before the blind, by helping the younger students become better players.
     Carolyn is the daughter of Jennifer and Mark Simpson, and the sister of Adam, age 8. She is the granddaughter of Myron and Lynn Slutsky, of Gastonia, North Carolina, and Harry and Lois Simpson, of Rockville, Maryland.
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