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 Men’s Club opened its fall season with a bang last month! We had a blast at our October 25th Membership Meeting watching Mel Brooks’ hilarious & irreverent comedy: History of the World-Part I, accompanied by a pizza & caesar salad feast. The first Bagels & Discovery program was held a few days later with Dr. Frank Slesnick speaking on What is the Value of Life – From an Economic Perspective?

On November 29th we’ll hold our annual Business Meeting to elect our officers. This will be a paid-up members’ free lunch catered by Beth Israel’s own Betty Schare & her delicious desserts! As a no-longer-secret surprise, we’ll be proud to welcome Mr. Martin Fennelly, sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. He’ll talk about the Bucs, the growth & development of Bucs QB Jameis Winston & about the kinds of tasks that Mr. Fennelly performs in his profession. All paid-up Men’s Club members & their guests are welcome & are encouraged to attend









Spotlight on Sisterhood

Rochelle Lafer, President

Once again Beth Israel Sisterhood has started the season off with some wonderful programs and the best is yet to come! December is the month we take a break from our regular meeting schedule to co-host the Sisterhood/Men’s Club Hanukkah Party. This year we will be celebrating Hanukkah on Sun-day, December 17th at 2pm in the Temple social hall. Join us for an afternoon of songs and fun and of course the ever popular potato latkes and jelly donuts.

Our Temple membership is growing faster than our space and as a result of this, reservations will be limited to members of the Temple, Sisterhood or Men’s Club and their partners. Reservations will be closed when we reach 96 people so if you want to ensure a place at this event please make your reser-vation (with $7 per person payment) early so you don’t get left out. Send your check made payable to Beth Israel Sisterhood to Marlene Hollander at 1004 El Rancho Drive, Sun City Center, Fl. 33573.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season.

May we go from strength to strength.












Social Action

Social Action Committee

 January - Meals on Wheels

Beth Israel is currently responsible for delivering Meals on Wheels during the month of January. The co-chairs of this committee begin to solicit drivers to deliver Meals on Wheels at the end of November. Two drivers are assigned each day to deliver in Kings Point and two drivers are assigned each day to deliver in Sun City Center. Two teams of back-up drivers are also solicited.

November - Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

 All year

     Interfaith Learning 

    "Feeding the Hungry"  

            Beth Israel supports the Metropolitan Ministries efforts to feed the hungry at the St Andrews Church in Sun City        Center.    Beth Israel members volunteer along with other volunteers from area clubs and churches to serve meals on Wednesdays.



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 Sandy Zians on her selection as Woman of Distinction 2017.  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


12.18.2017 10:00 - 12:00
Library Program
12.18.2017 10:00 - 12:00
Beth Israel Gift Shop Open
12.19.2017 01:30 - 02:30
Continuing Hebrew
12.20.2017 12:00 - 01:00
Men's Club Membership Mtg