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Posts Tagged ‘Bar Mitzvah’

Brooklyn Boy Killed By Van One Month before Bar Mitzvah

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

A Brooklyn boy was struck and killed by a van Tuesday night, one month before his bar mitzvah.

Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was hit on Prospect Park West in the Park Slope neighborhood after chasing a ball into the street, the New York Daily News reported. The boy was pronounced dead soon after arriving at nearby Methodist Hospital.

The van driver remained at the scene and no summons was issued.

The Park Slope Stoop website reported that Cohen-Eckstein had been scheduled to mark his bar mitzvah at Kolot Chayeinu, a liberal congregation in Park Slope, and planned to donate a portion of his gifts to Heifer International.

His parents, Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, have spoken at community meetings “in support of traffic calming and the protected bike lane on Prospect Park West,” according to StreetsBlog.org.

Struck by Lightning at Camp, Ethan Kadish Battles Brain Injury

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

On Saturday, two weeks after Ethan Kadish’s 13th birthday, the members of his family will gather around a Torah scroll in the chapel of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for a small ceremony marking his entrance into adulthood.

This was not the bar mitzvah that Scott and Alexia Kadish envisioned seven weeks ago when Ethan was still at the Goldman Union Camp Institute, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Zionsville, Ind.

Scott and Alexia had just finished mailing Ethan’s bar mitzvah invitations and were making final plans for a week of vacation when they received the call: While helping younger campers learn the rules of Ultimate Frisbee, Ethan and two other children had been struck by lightning.

The other children were released from the hospital soon afterward. But Ethan, who suffered cardiac arrest as a result of the strike, was in critical condition. Nearly two months later he is still fighting the effects of a catastrophic brain injury.

“We know that Ethan will be in the hospital for many months,” Scott said. “But the progress we have seen — which we are measuring week to week and month to month, not day to day — has been in a forward direction.”

Initially hospitalized in Indianapolis, Ethan was airlifted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in early July. After two weeks in intensive care, he has regained the ability to breathe on his own, but he remains unable to engage in purposeful movements. Although he has irregular periods of open-eyed wakefulness, his parents told JTA they are not sure of the extent of his vision.

The family has benefited from the support of their community, including their rabbi, Sissy Coran of Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, who spent the night with the Kadishes on the second day of Ethan’s hospitalization. Meals have been delivered to them three times a week, and hundreds have signed up for Team Ethan on the Lotsa Helping Hands website, which assists families caring for a sick relative.

“We have experienced the best of humanity,” Alexia said.

Now the family is seeking another kind of help.

In cooperation with the HelpHOPELive fundraising website and the Great Lakes Catastrophic Injury Fund, the Kadishes are hoping to raise money to cover Ethan’s medical expenses, many of which will not be covered by insurance, they say.

In an interview, the couple — who also have set up a webpage to keep well-wishers informed of Ethan’s condition — were candid about the emotional difficulties of the preceding weeks, from the anguished ride from Cincinnati to the hospital in Indianapolis, to the emotional pain of having an unresponsive child. But they remain hopeful.

Recently they took Ethan outside into the sunlight and were rewarded with a response from their son: a tiny but unmistakable laugh.

Nonetheless, as they prepare for the months and years ahead, the Kadishes are cognizant of the many challenges facing their family. They have two other children, ages 16 and 10.

“Our other children certainly know there has been a huge change in our family lifestyle,” Alexia said. “They see how many hours Scott and I spend at the hospital. But we’re trying really hard to create a schedule as the school year starts to provide some source of normalcy in our family unit.”

“This,” Scott added, “is our new normal.”

Maccabiah Games Draw US Athletes to Become ‘Bar Mitzvah’

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Luke Rosener removed his orange T-shirt, changed into a white dress shirt and alighted from a chartered bus.

The garb was a far cry from the uniform Rosener will wear while playing for the U.S. volleyball team at the Maccabiah, the 78-nation sports competition that began in Israel last week. The Cupertino, Calif., native’s attire was more befitting a religious ceremony — in this case, his bar mitzvah.

Rosener, 22, had never had a bar mitzvah, owing to his family’s financial situation and his early struggles with dyslexia. But as part of the 1,200-member U.S. Maccabiah delegation, Rosener encountered a ready-made opportunity to become a bar mitzvah alongside scores of new friends also celebrating the traditional rite of passage.

That’s because Maccabi USA, the American branch of the international sports movement, brings participants to Israel a week before the competition for a mandatory program of touring and discussions rich in Jewish content. In recent years, the program, known as Israel Connect, has featured a mass bar mitzvah ceremony for participants who never had one.

“There’s so much more to [the Maccabiah] than playing sports,” said Jeffrey Bukantz, Maccabi USA’s general chairman and a former fencing Olympian. “We really do consider it the flagship of the program. It’s to the point that Israel Connect is more important than the actual sports. The kids are really impacted by the program.”

On the lush grounds of a reception center in the hills west of Jerusalem, a mile beyond the Elvis Inn pub guarded by a white statue of the King, the delegation gathered in the setting sun Tuesday for the ceremony. The entry hall’s long red carpet was lined with red, white and blue balloons and round tables in the vast garden were stacked with wrapped presents.

The Tuesday ceremony coincided with Tisha B’Av, the 25-hour fast commemorating the destruction of both Holy Temples — a day on which celebrations are frowned upon. But as he prepared to chant the Torah portion designated for the closing hours of many fast days, Daniel Greyber, the delegation’s official rabbi, offered a fresh perspective.

“The afternoon of Tisha B’Av is a time of rebuilding, of looking forward,” Greyber said. “The bnai mitzvah ceremony connects us to the Jewish people — not only in this world at this time, but for all of history. In that regard, it requires celebrating.”

Along with the U.S. team’s assistant rabbi, Noam Raucher, Greyber led the crowd in spirited singing. And he punctuated the Torah reading with references to group discussions he had led the previous day covering biblical events and their relevance today.

Dave Blackburn, a star softball pitcher who has competed in six Maccabiah Games, recited Birkat HaGomel, traditionally recited by those who have escaped harm. In 2009, Blackburn was nearly killed in a car crash, an accident that claimed his right leg below the knee and broke 27 bones.

“I’ve lived to share this Maccabiah experience with you, my extended family,” Blackburn said from his wheelchair.

Greyber called the Maccabiah participants to the Torah in three groups, and as the last one ascended the podium, he called for attention.

“Everyone, look at the miracle that is happening,” said Greyber, “as the sun goes down over Jerusalem, as this group that has never been to Israel and never had a bar or bat mitzvah is having an aliyah for the first time.”

Then Blackburn’s nephew Landon stepped forward. “My uncle,” he began, struggling through tears to get the words out, “is keeping me alive, and that’s all that matters.”

Landon Blackburn, a wrestler, said later that his uncle’s participation in the games is his most cherished aspect of the trip. His own father would not have permitted him to participate without his uncle’s influence, he said.

A native of La Porte, Ind., Landon, 18, said he grew up celebrating Jewish holidays, but as a rebellious child opted not to have a bar mitzvah.

“But all that did was make my life harder, that the weight of the world was on my shoulders,” he said. “I didn’t have anything to help me cope with the hardships of life.” he said.

Having this bar mitzvah, he said, makes him feel “100 percent better about my outlook on life.”

Shabbos Holds 100 Proof for Whiskey Lovers

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Jewish whiskey lovers have scheduled their second annual “Whiskey Jewbilee” for October, after the High Holidays, following last year’s stunning success of the first festival that was arranged after the wider known WhiskeyFest was held on the Sabbath.

Drinking a glass of “schnapps” and saying “L’Chaim” is not a Jewish law or even an ancient tradition, but it has been ingrained in modern Jewish life. There is barely a single Bar Mitzvah, wedding or other “simchah” without whiskey. And on Purim, the corks pop faster than one can drown out “Haman.”

Last year’s WhiskeyFest was held on Friday night Saturday, precluding many observant whiskey lovers from attending.

The relatively new Jewish Whiskey Company staged a  “counter festival” on a week night at a West Side synagogue and drew 250 people, according to The New York Times , and delivered the proof that one can enjoy a whiskey festival and still observe the Sabbath.

Whiskey companies that were not represented at the Jewbilee realized that the WhiskeyFest’s Saturday event cost them customers.

Although whiskeys are often kosher without special procedures, many producers are attracting Jewish drinkers by offering their bottles with kosher supervision.

An estimated 50 percent of former WhiskeyFest events were attended by orthodox Jews, but many of them were drawn last year to the Jewbilee, which is hoping to attract a lot more this year, with a second event in Westchester County.

The Jewish Whiskey Company pushes Jewish identity and uses a watermark of the Star of David on the front of its bottles.

64-Year-Old Polish Jew Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Mariusz Robert Aoflko, a 64-year old Jewish attorney from Krakow who grew up thinking he was a Polish Catholic, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on Wednesday, May 30, at the Kotel, with friends and other “hidden Jews” from Poland.

Mariusz spent his entire life as a Catholic. However, 13 years ago, right before his mother passed away, she told him something that turned his whole world upside down: he is a Jew, and a Kohen.

This week, Mariusz (who now goes by the name of Moshe) is visiting Israel for the first time and this morning celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel, 13 years after the secret, which he calls “his rebirth,” was revealed.

It turns out that both of Mariusz’s parents were born to Jewish families who perished in Auschwitz. After the war, the fear of being Jewish in Poland led his parents to hide their religion and to live as Polish Catholics.

After learning his true identity, Mariusz was in complete shock, but slowly, over the years, he decided he wanted to live a Jewish life. He contacted Shavei Israel’s emissary in Krakow, Rabbi Boaz Pash, and became involved with the Jewish community in Krakow.

Last month, he met Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, at the entrance of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and told him his story. “I was deeply moved,” Freund said, adding, “I told him that since 13 years have passed since he found out he was a Jew, it is an appropriate time for him to have a Bar Mitzvah.” Freund then offered to arrange the event at the Kotel, all paid for by the organization.

“By embarking on this journey into my heritage, step by step, it all starts to become clear to me,” said Mariusz. “I am not doing this to prove anything to anyone. All I ask is to embrace the truth about my family and regain the lost identity that was hidden from me for decades.”

Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Jews who to this day are either hiding their identities or simply unaware of their family heritage. In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland,” have begun to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China.

Shavei Israel currently has two full-time emissaries in Poland, located in Krakow and Katowice.

Be a Hero with the Aleh Foundation

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This Rosh Hashana you can commit to be a hero, just like Fariba and Alexa Khorshad, Ariel and Adir Settenbrino and more! Read about the amazing volunteers of the Aleh Foundation.

Los Angeles Youth Rally at Temple Sinai for Special Children in Israel

To our dear sisters and brothers, the children of Aleh in Israel,

Shalom, I would like to introduce you to my sister, Alexa Khorshad who is ten years old and myself Rachel Khorshad, I am eleven years old. This past Hannukah while attending Hebrew school at Sinai Temple in Los Angels, we decided to pick a Mitzvah project of our own and help children with special needs. We were lucky to choose The Aleh Foundation since it is so close to our hearts. For the past few months whenever we could get away from school work, we have been going door to door, to people we knew or didn’t know, to our friends and family and to meetings at the temple. We introduced people to Aleh Foundation and explained the help they give to their children. We have been welcomed with open arms at many places and we have received donations anywhere from $3.00 to couple of hundred dollars. We are so privileged to present you a check in the amount of $4,026.00. We hope that this donation would help you in so many ways, we also wish it would bring a smile to your face the same way that it made us smile. We love you and we hope to visit you in Israel in the near future. Sincerely,

Alexa and Rachel Khorshad

I am so excited to tell you the wonderful news that my daughters Rachel and Alexa have raised on behalf of the special children from your Foundation over $4,026.00 and still growing!  You should see the sparkle in my daughters eyes when they make a speech in our own Temple Sinai here in Los Angeles and they collect money. I have to tell you that people have been very nice and generous to them.

Love,

Fariba Khorshad

 

Adir Schwarts–Settenbrino chose to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem with a disabled Israeli twin a few months ago. Back in 2009 Adir chose Aleh Foundation as his pet project when he glowingly delivered a tribute to a distinguished crowd of participants that filled the ballroom to honor his mom, Susan Settenbrino.

Since then the Davies and Settenbrinos have celebrated a Bar Mitzvah for their older son Ariel in Jerusalem in conjunction with a disabled ALEH boy and have served as chairpeople at many Aleh Foundation functions. Adir gave up his Bar Mitzvah with friends to twin it with a disabled child “because when you have it by yourself, getting all the attention and gifts, you feel too self centered,” explains the Joseph Kushner 8th grader.

Adir’s Twin, Moshe, who suffers from epilepsy, lives in Aleh Gedera Center in Israel. Adir’s gift of $2,500.00 will go towards purchasing equipment for the Snoezelen room at Moshe’s facility. Snoezelen is a therapeutic multi-sensory room that highlights the senses while creating an atmosphere of relaxation and calm. To learn more about Twinning Bar Mitzvahs call 1-800-317-ALEH, or visit the website at www.alehfoundationusa.org.

Aleh is Israel’s foremost provider of care, treatment and education of severely disabled infants, children and young adults.  Their spacious, modern centers in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Gedera and the Negev are home to more than 650 special children, with thousands more attending Aleh’s facilities each day for treatment and education.  All proceeds from this event will go to the capital fund to build the new Special Education School Campus in Pardes Katz, 10 minutes from Tel Aviv.  The government was so impressed with the plans for the new school that they donated a large tract of land for the construction. This beautiful new complex, which is desperately needed, will contain 24 classrooms, an Olympic-sized therapeutic swimming pool, rooftop playground and much more. Please sponsor much needed equipment  for a disabled child. http://www.alehfoundationusa.org/PRG_eqiupment.html

Call 718-851-4596 to volunteer or send your contributions to the Aleh Foundation headquarters at 5317 13th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11219.

Visit our website at http://www.alehfoundationusa.org/

Hollywood Star David Arquette Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Wall

Monday, June 11th, 2012

American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, fashion designer, and occasional professional wrestler David Arquette is in Israel as a guest of the Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.

Third generation of the Arquette acting dynasty (grandfather Cliff Arquette, father Lewis Arquette, siblings Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and Alexis Arquette), David has starred in the “Scream” series, “Wild Bill,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Never Been Kissed” and “Dream with the Fishes.” He was also a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

David Arquette’s mother is Jewish, the daughter of a Holocaust refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland, and his father is a convert to Islam.

Arquette, 41, is currently in Israel to film a segment in the popular Travel Channel series “Mile High.” The show, which will be broadcast on cable and satellite channels in the U.S., will showcase Israeli tourism.

Arquette visited Tel Aviv on Sunday with his production, and on Monday he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. On Tuesday he is going down to the Dead Sea and Judean Desert to film.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/david-arquette-celebrates-his-bar-mitzvah-at-the-wailing-wall/2012/06/11/

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