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The Holiday of Shavuot, celebrated this year from May 14-16, is such a perfect one for us Bat Mitzvah girls. Just as we celebrate accepting our responsibilities as Jews, our ancestors at Mt. Sinai joyfully took upon themselves the same commandments with the statement, “Naasah V’Nishama! - We shall do and we shall hear!” 

In fact, the two occasions are so connected that the first Bat Mitzvah ceremonies ever were said to have been held on Shavuot. Isaac Pardo was the Rabbi of Verona, Italy in the 19th century, and the earliest bat mitzvah was attributed to his synagogue there.

In Pardo’s synagogue, the Bat Mitzvah was a communal ceremony, held for all the girls who turned 12 during the course of the following year. According to Aliza Lavie, author of the new book: Women's Customs: A Journey of Jewish Customs, Rituals, Prayers and Stories, “The girls wore white and entered the men's section of the synagogue during the procession; accompanied by a choir ... The rabbi blessed them.” The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) was also sung to teach the girls about the strong female Jewish role-model, the only woman judge and prophetess, Devorah.


PictureSheena at her 1997 bat mitzvah
And the Bat Mitzvah custom spread from there. Indeed, in my own 1997 Bat Mitzvah speech about Shavuot I connected to accepting the Torah because just as each year on Shavuot Jews are taught to re-accept the Torah upon themselves, our Bat Mitzvah date is our own personal Shavuot. 

May we continue to go beyond bat mitzvah each year...even 16 years later.

Sheena Levi
Director of Outreach
sheena@levlalev.com


 
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American mitzvah girls at the Feb. 2013 gala
VERY exciting news mitzvah ladies! Thanks to a suggestion from Baila’s mom (see this month’s mitzvah profile) we are adding a new raffle contest to our mitzvah project program.

Starting from this month, for each $100 a bat mitzvah girl raises, her name will be added to our annual ‘Fly to the Gala’ drawing. The winning name receives 1 free ticket to fly to Israel to attend the next upcoming gala bat mitzvah for the ladies from the Children’s Home in Netanya!

The drawing will be held once a year on December 1st for the gala that following February. Girls celebrating their bat mitzvah from May-November 2013 are eligible for the 2014 gala raffle.

Next year’s raffle, for the 2015 gala, will be for girls celebrating their bat mitzvah from December 2013-November 2014.



Other ways to earn raffle tickets:
1.    1 for each friend you refer (they mention your name to us) who does her own mitzvah project for Lev LaLev.
2.    1 for featuring your simcha in our e-newsletter and blog (pictures and article).
3.    1 for each presentation about your mitzvah project you make to your school, federation, synagogue, JCC, JR NCSY chapter, or other local club.
4.    1 for every 10 cards you sell (Rosh Hashana and/or Purim).

Good luck ladies! Just remember, everyone is invited to the gala, and no matter what happens, you are all doing the winning mitzvah of supporting orphaned girls in Israel!

 
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Name: Baila Weisberger
Town: Passaic, NJ
Bat Mitzvah Date: September 2012
Mitzvah Project: Making jewelry and ani ma’amin cards for the girls at the Children’s Home in Netanya.

Tell us a little about yourself: I go to Yeshiva Bais Hillel. I have 2 siblings, my brother is 11 and my sister is 8. My all time favorite things to do are dance, sing, and act; reading and art. Don’t mean to brag, but I’m very creative so I’m really good at all of them.

How did you decide to take on this particular project for Lev LaLev? We were searching the internet and found the Lev LaLev website. It really inspired me and I decided to do a project.

What was the most meaningful part of doing this Mitzvah Project for your Bat Mitzvah? Knowing that I’ll make a girls day by letting them know I care, and having them wear the jewelry that we made and at least know that we’re thinking of them.

What are your plans for the future, i.e. life after Bat Mitzvah? For now, to get into a good high school.

Please share your advice for a girl looking into doing a Mitzvah Project for her Bat Mitzvah. Do your research to find a meaningful organization and cause, plan something fun and that the recipients will love, like with Lev LaLev!