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Los Angeles Jewish Health recently enabled four elderly residents to celebrate their b’not mitzvah, which are typically celebrated by 12 or 13 year olds.
For Casey Joseph, Judith Karon, Marcia Mass and Sue Solender, deciding to study for an adult bat mitzvah required a leap of faith on multiple levels. The women addressed the community at Los Angeles Jewish Health’s Eisenberg Village campus, reading from the Torah, honoring the faith of their forebearers and affirming their commitment to Judaism.
“Whether you’re a teenager or a woman somewhat past that, it takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of family and friends and chant words in an unfamiliar language, becoming links in a chain that extends all the way back to Mt. Sinai,” said Rabbi Ron Goldberg, spiritual leader at the Eisenberg Village campus.
“I was always interested in learning about Judaism, but I was always told no because it was something reserved for boys,” said Joseph, 69.
“When I was in grade school, the Jewish community in my hometown of Minneapolis built a Hebrew school, and I wanted to go, but my mother told me I couldn’t,” added Solender, 80.
For Mass, 81, the bat mitzvah offered an opportunity to connect with her roots.
“My parents moved out to Los Angeles and moved away from the orthodoxy of my father’s family, so they were not religious and we never did anything special to mark the holidays,” Mass said.
The ceremony forged a tight bond among residents.
“Part of what was so wonderful was that the four of us developed a closeness as we learned and prepared together,” said Karon, 83.
During the ceremony, Los Angeles Jewish Health CEO and president Dale Surowitz presented the women with Kiddush cups, which are special cups for sanctifying wine. Andrew Berman, chairman of Los Angeles Jewish Health Board, presented commemorative certificates to the women.
“There was this incredible sense of community,” Karon said. “You had to be there to experience it.”
Founded in 1912 and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the nonprofit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior health care services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. For information, visit lajhealth.org.
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