Bnai Torah class of January 2017
Vicki Courrèges, Anna Foster, Carol Goekin, Hilde Klein, Erica Leino, Linda Mumford, Diane Posner, Joy Rosen, Robert Whiteman,
Snapshot 1 2 3 2017 3 37 PM SmallAnna Foster, Joy Rosen, Erica Leino, Rabbi Carla Freedman

Snapshot 2 2 3 2017 3 39 PMJoy Rosen, Anna Foster, Rabbi Carla Freedman
Snapshot 3 2 3 2017 3 40 PM 2Hilde Klein, Daine Posner, Joy Rosen
Snapshot 4 2 3 2017 3 43 PMLinda Mumford, Bob Whiteman, Rabbi Carla Freedman
Snapshot 5 2 3 2017 3 45 PMLinda Mumford, Rabbi Carla Freedman
Snapshot 6 2 3 2017 3 46 PMVicki Courrèges, Rabbi Carla Freedman
Snapshot 7 2 3 2017 3 48 PMDiane Posner, Bob Whiteman, Hilde Klein, Rabbi Carla Freedman
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

On March 21st twenty one men and women headed out to Tampa Bay Downs to spend a delightful afternoon watching the races & partaking of a fabulous buffet.  Thanks to Gil Daniels for arranging this great event.

Our March 28th General Meeting offered a change of pace from our usual speaker with the showing of Mel Brooks’ hilarious comedy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights .  Lunch was prepared by Beth Israel’s own Sharon Privitera & featured a choice of either cheese or vegetable lasagna (or both), salad & garlic bread.  What a great way to spend the afternoon!  Good fun, good food & good friends!!

Upcoming plans for April include a fantastic Bagels & Discovery on April 15th featuring Tony Belmont from the National Comedy Hall of Fame with a not-to-be-missed multi-media presentation.  As part of his program, Tony will award prizes to those who can answer his trivia questions.  

Following Tony, on April 25th, we’re proud to present LTC William Morrow, USA (Ret) whose military background has him well-equipped to tell us of the history of our Army Rangers.  Food for the luncheon will feature wraps from Publix. 

Flyers for both April events will be sent out shortly.

The next Men’s Club Board Meeting will be held on April 4th where plans for our May 23rd General Meeting will be finalized. 




Spotlight on Sisterhood

Rochelle Lafer, President

By the time you read this article Passover will be upon us.  This year our Women’s Seder actually falls out during the Passover holiday.  This doesn’t happen very often, but it makes our program very special.  I hope that you are (or were) able to celebrate this unique Seder, tailored especially for women, with all of us.

The next Women of Faith program will be held on Monday, April 16th at 10:00am at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.  The Church is located at 1239 W Del Webb Blvd.  They have asked that we provide a count of the people planning on attending the program.  There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in the social hall or you can call me at (813) 938-3824 to let me know you will be joining us. Beth Israel always has a wonderful presence at these events.

We will finish off our program year with the annual closing brunch and installation of officers on Tuesday, May 1st at 11:00am.  This is always a wonderful Sisterhood gathering and I look forward to seeing many of you there.  More information about this program will be sent out in April.

Happy spring to you all and to our snowbirds heading back to the north safe travels and come back soon.

May we go from strength to strength.






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


05.29.2018 01:30 - 03:00
Continuing Hebrew
05.31.2018 01:30 - 03:00
Biblical Hebrew Grammar
06.01.2018 06:00 - 07:00
Shabbat Dinner
06.01.2018 07:30 - 09:30
Shabbat Services
06.05.2018 01:30 - 03:00
Continuing Hebrew
06.06.2018 10:00 - 12:00
Men's Club Board Meeting
06.07.2018 01:30 - 03:00
Biblical Hebrew Grammar
06.08.2018 07:30 - 09:30
Shabbat Services Bimah
06.09.2018 10:00 - 12:00
Morning Shabbat Service
06.09.2018 12:00 - 01:00
Torah Study