On Memorial Day weekend, May 23, Temple Beth Shalom began the most beautiful B'nai Mitzvah ceremony ever held for 13 adults. Preparing for this event, the adult students met weekly with Rabbi Devora Buchen. They learned the tenets of the Jewish faith and of Reform Judaism. Some students had prior learning from their childhoods at Hebrew School, some had gone through B'nai Mitzvah at age 13, and some were in a secular surrounding with negligible Jewish background. Rabbi Buchen put them all together in one room and inspired them with all the qualities that our Jewish heritage values: dedication to study and learning, devotion to our Temple community and deep joy in our traditions. Rabbi said it was one of the hardest courses she ever taught, but the most rewarding to see the joy and beauty of the results.
Of our B'nai Mitzvot, some were converts to Judaism, and one went through conversion with Rabbi Buchen.
Friday night, May 24, the B'nai Mitzvah class participated in the candle lighting that welcomes the Sabbath, and joined in the typical Kabbalat (song-filled) service. The evening was happily shared with the Jewish War Veterans. The veterans were included in the service and gave prayers for those soldiers, both Jewish and Gentile, who gave their lives in such great numbers to protect our country's freedoms.
After the service, everyone joined in the Kiddush, the blessings over wine and bread, and then selected some fabulous desserts from a smorgasbord of great baked goods and fruits. Everyone stayed and shmoozed (talked) until they were tired and ready for bed. After all, the B'nai Mitzvah class had to come back the next day to complete their service. So, on Saturday, May 25, everyone returned to Temple Beth Shalom for the morning service which had the students leading the prayers and songs. Several of the B'nai Mitzvah class chanted some of the trope (the special singing associated with reading the sacred scrolls) of the week's Torah portion.
The congregation was anxious to congratulate the new members who have taken their place in the 5,774 years of Jewish tradition. And as it is done at so many of our Jewish holidays, at the end of the service it was time for the Kiddush and a delicious catered luncheon that the newly-B'nai Mitzvah'd provided in grateful, joyful generosity.
It was a wonderful first-ever adult B'nai Mitzvah at Temple Beth Shalom.