Bnot Torah Class of May 2015

 Shabbot May 23, 2015

Joanne Sudman, Sandra Cohen, Nina Malinak, Rochelle Lafer, Eileen West, Delyse Axinn

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 Shavout, May 24, 2015

 Deborah Schwalm, Marlene Spiegal, Laura Reuterfors, Janet Corin, Verdna Kelley, Ronni Neckes, Dianna Duncan

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Question: What is “Bnot Torah”? I have heard of “adult bar/bat mitzvahs”, but never “Bnot Torah”.

“Bar Mitzvah” is an Aramaic phrase that comes to us from Pirkei Avot, 5:24. In this collection of “wisdom literature”, various ethical and inspirational sayings are attributed to the earliest generations of the rabbis. The item of interest to us is attributed to Rabbi Yehudah ben Tema, who outlines the stages of a Jew’s life, indicating what is appropriate for specific ages. He identifies 13 as the age at which a Jew becomes morally accountable for his own actions, as signified by his (and today of course, her) full assumption of the religious duties of Jewish adulthood, that is, the performance of mitzvot (fulfilling the commandments).

In antiquity, and probably until the 17th century, this transition from childhood to adult responsibility at the age of 13 took place without ceremony. But for the last 400 years, approximately, we have been marking the occasion by requiring the youngster in question to demonstrate to the community that he (and now she too) is ready to be counted amongst the adults, by demonstrating competence in some ritual act that is not permitted to those under 13. Reading from the Torah scroll became that demonstration because in addition to the reading skills it shows, it is also evidence of disciplined learning. Thus, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony serves to notify the community that another member has come of age.

So, to speak of “an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah” is a contradiction in terms. Bar/Bat Mitzvah is something that happens, with or without ceremony, at the age of 13.

Many adult women today did not have the opportunity to acquire the skills and demonstrate them to their family and community at the age of 13 because Bat Mitzvah ceremonies had not become common when they were the right age; others did not have this rite of passage because the family they grew up in only provided religious instruction to their sons. So these women have asserted their right to that instruction and the public acknowledgement of their Jewish identity by going through a parallel ritual. But properly speaking, that cannot be called a “Bat Mitzvah” because that is unequivocally associated with the age of 13. Many of us would like to reclaim our youth, but we all know that we cannot go back to being 13!

So the event is referred to as Bat or Bar Torah (some men missed out on the adolescent rite of passage too). To emphasize that this is a ritual for mature and highly motivated adults, it is appropriate to give it a name of its own. And so we can speak of an adult laying claim to Torah (either in the sense of what’s on the scroll or in the sense of all of Jewish wisdom) by becoming a son (bar) or daughter (bat) of the Torah.

When a mixed gender group or an all-male group does this together, it is called Bnai Torah. And when a group of women do this, it is called Bnot Torah. This nomenclature acknowledges the centrality of Torah to Jewish life and learning, and reminds us that we are all the children of that source of wisdom.


Jeff Beller, President

The High Holy Days as well as Sukkot have passed & we hope that the New Year brings all of you peace & good health.

On that note, I’d like to thank all of the men & women volunteers who gave of their time & efforts to help set up & take down the sukkah! Your hard work made the tasks both easier & more fun. You were great!

Our fall season is coming along nicely! The program for our upcoming October 25th Membership Meeting will be a DVD showing of Mel Brooks’ hilarious & irreverent comedy: History of the World-Part I, accompanied by a pizza & caesar salad feast. All Beth Israel men are invited at a pay-at-the-door cost of only $6.00 per per-son but an RSVP to is necessary.

The first Bagels & Discovery program is scheduled for October 29th & will feature Dr. Frank Slesnick on the topic: What is the Value of Life – From an Economic Perspective? This program is open to all Temple mem-bers at a cost of only $9.00 per person but, since space is limited & the topic so interesting, we suggest an early RSVP with an accompanying check.

Our annual Business Meeting with a paid-up members’ lunch & election of officers is scheduled for November 29th. All members are encouraged to attend. More details will follow.

Other events are in the planning stage & will be announced as they are confirmed.







Spotlight on Sisterhood

Rochelle Lafer, President

Our opening meeting for Sisterhood was a real treat. Sharon Privitera and her committee put together a refreshment table that was both beautiful on the eyes and delicious to eat. The program by Rabbi Carla Freedman was informative as well as entertaining. Thanks to all involved for starting our Sister-hood season on such a high note.

November is traditionally our paid-up members lunch. Janet Corin and Barbara Nova have been work-ing hard to put together a great lunch for all of our members who have paid their dues for the current year. Reservations for the November meeting must be made by Sunday, November 5th. Please con-tact Janet at 401-524-0847 or Barbara Nova at or sign up on the bulletin board in the Temple social hall. Don’t forget to put down your choice of sandwich (tuna, veggie or cheese). A wide variety of veggie toppings will be available to complete your sandwich. Wonderful pastries will fin-ish off the meal. Following lunch we will have a short movie. YOU MUST HAVE A RESERVATION TO ATTEND THE PAID-UP LUNCHEON.

As we gather to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving later this month we all have so much to be thank-ful for. I am so grateful to be a part of our incredible Temple family. From my house to yours I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with good food, good company and the blessings of peace.


May we go from strength to strength.





Social Action

Social Action Committee
Upcoming Activities
Harvey (Harv) Berman (Chair)


Beth Israel’s membership once again will continue to support the Metropolitan Ministries’ (MM) efforts “Feeding the Hungry” during the remaining calendar months ending in December 2016. The group’s efforts have been very successful in this endeavor and have gotten several accolades from the MM staff because of our involvement during each function. My sincere thanks go out to the following folks that have come forward to support this effort: Cyrille and Bob Cobe, Nancy Binder, Bob Rogin and Nancy Nova. If I have left you off this list I apologize and also thank you for your help.

With the High Holy Day’s that will soon be upon us – Beth Israel will once again collect non-perishable food items to include baby food and diapers, etc. to support those needy families in the Sun City Center and surrounding communities. Last year we collected 84 large bags of food that was delivered to “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and it is hoped that we will be able to surpass this number and collect at least 100 bags. It is very difficult understand that in our country families are going without because of rising cost of food and medicine -- and thus have to make very difficult decisions as to what direction to go – buy food, medicine and even the simplest of clothing items. So in the next several months as “we” all go into our favorite food stores, I urge you all to make a conscious decision and start putting away items that will best meet the needs of those families



Unique Beth Israel

Library - Visit our category of books on line and latest library news by clicking here.

Judaica shop – Browse some of our items  and hours of operation here

Special Programs and Events

Bnot Torah Class of 2015

Bnai Torah  Class of 2017

A Night of Comedy

Woman of Distinction - Beth Israel congratulates Joanne Sudman on her selection as Woman of Distinction 2016.  Read more about this honor here.

Dedication of the Betty Kleinman Library Shelf and Kleinman Mosaic – January 18, 2013

Rummage Sale –  Read more

Rededication of the Temple - Celebrating 25 years – March 3, 2013  Read More


10.24.2017 11:00 - 12:00
Women of Faith Meeting
10.24.2017 01:30 - 02:30
Continuing Hebrew
10.25.2017 10:00 - 11:00
Men's Club Board mtg
10.26.2017 01:30 - 02:30
Biblical Hebrew
10.26.2017 03:00 - 04:30
Bible Study
10.27.2017 07:30 - 09:30
Shabbat Services
10.28.2017 10:00 - 12:00
Morning Shabbat Service
10.28.2017 12:00 - 01:00
Torah Study