Kvell and Tell – December 4 2020 – Adult B’nai Mitzvah Service

Our Adult B’nai Mitzvah class would like to thank Congregation Or Ami for creating a warm, welcoming, musical, spiritually uplifting community in which to learn about Judaism, to study Torah, and to be inspired by the beauty of Jewish spirituality. Thank you for the opportunity to fulfill our dreams of becoming B’nai Mitzvah.

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We especially want to thank our teacher Diane Townsend, Cantor Doug Cotler, and Rabbis Paul Kipnes and Julia Weisz, our President Lesli Kraut and all the leaders of the synagogue, and our incredible office staff Susie Stark, Lisette Tuohy, and Jenny Mazzella. You all do the holy work that makes this community so amazing.

We feel so blessed to be called to the Torah and would like to share these words of appreciation:  

Lynn Franklin:  There are many important people in my life who helped make my long-awaited Bat Mitzvah possible. Firstly, I would like to thank my beautiful mother for always loving me, believing in me, and teaching me that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind and heart to. Mom, you are my “#1 fan”! I am forever grateful to my amazing children, Alexandra and Matthew. I am in awe of you. Witnessing and participating in your own Bat and Bar Mitzvah journeys gave me the strong desire and inspiration to finally take the leap to become a Bat Mitzvah. I so admire all the hard work you did at a young age and I appreciate all the abounding love and encouragement you gave me while I was studying and preparing. Thank you, Eddie, for saying to me, “Go for it”!  Many thanks to Diane Townsend, not only for your enjoyable Hebrew teachings unmatched by no other but your immeasurable patience, dedication and devotion as a mentor to me and our B’nai Mitzvah classmates! Diane, your caring, supportive, and loving friendship has permanently touched my heart. Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia . . .  because of your guidance as clergy, the special way you are as people, and your smiles and laughter, you helped me too to travel this incredible B’nai Mitzvah road. I can’t say enough to my classmates how much I enjoyed getting to know each of you these past two years and how blessed I feel sharing this awesome experience together. We are a true Mishpacha! Lastly, to my wonderful family and friends watching here tonight on Zoom. You mean the world to me and I am incredibly grateful that you were able to join me in my milestone.  

Lynn Friedman: My journey leading up to this special evening has been very personal, but would not have been possible without my family, friends and community by my side. I am grateful for having so many people in my life and I’d like to acknowledge everyone who has helped make this moment possible for me. Thank you to my husband Kevin for all his support and understanding how important it was for me to become a Bat Mitzvah. To my incredible kids, Jacob, Brooke and Carly for being my biggest source of inspiration every single day and for giving “Mom” Tuesday nights off for the past two years. 

I want to thank my wonderful parents, Mike and Pearl, for always being there for me, raising me with Jewish traditions, laying the foundation for my faith and being a source of strength for me, and I cherish you always! My brother Lee, Deb and Evi, thank you for your never-ending support – it means the world to me. I’d like to thank my Mother-in-law, Sharon, for your encouragement. I thank all my extended family members, including aunts, uncles and cousins for sending me good wishes for this achievement in my life. From childhood to now, I’ve been so fortunate to have best friends who are like family to me. You’ve all been my biggest cheerleaders and I value your support more than ever.

To my fellow classmates, congratulations to each of you! I couldn’t imagine going on this journey with anyone else. We have built friendships to last a lifetime. This literally would not be happening without my amazing teacher, Diane, who never let me give up! Your patience and guidance have been immeasurable, and you will always be a treasured friend. I want to thank Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia for helping this dream of mine come true. While we all wish we were standing together in a room instead of seeing each other on a Zoom, it does not diminish the meaningfulness of this ceremony, with beautiful music and prayer.

Dan Germain: There are a number of people I would like to thank. First, thank you to my phenomenal teacher, Jewish guide, mentor, and friend Diane Townsend. I am grateful for your vast knowledge, calm disposition, bottomless patience and unending support. Not only are you a fantastic teacher, but you are also a loving and caring person. I could never fully express how much you mean to me—truly I have been blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for guiding me through this journey.

Thank you to my magnificent and talented classmates, Lynn Franklin, Lynn Friedman, Shelly Gluck, Lucille Goldin, Pamela Goldstein, Susie Guldbeck, Holly Hollander, and Dana Shine. You made two years fly by and I am so proud to call each of you my friends. We have accomplished so much.

Thank you to our incredible and supportive clergy, Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Cantor Doug Cotler, and Rabbi Julia Weisz. You are a constant inspiration to all of us. Your encouragement and advice have led me to places I never thought I would go. You have immeasurable deepened and strengthened my spirit and I am forever grateful to each of you.

And, last but not least, thank you to Bonnie Germain and our two loving daughters, Michelle and Kayla. Thank you for putting up with my daily singing and chanting (which was usually off-key and incomprehensible).  I love each of you.

Shelly Gluck: To my Family, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your love, and support, encouragement. To my parents, you brought me up in a home filled with so much love, laughter and devotion. You have passed on to me all your Jewish values and traditions and enabled me to pass them on to my children. I went on this journey of becoming a Bat Mitzvah to bestow honor to you as well as myself. To my wonderful husband, Gary and my incredible children, Adam and Rachel, I thank you for all your love and support and for the many hours of singing and practicing with me the prayers and for knowing my Torah portion as well as I do! You bring love and laughter into all my days and make me want to be the best Daughter, Mom and friend that I can be. Thank you to Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia for your inspiration and deep commitment. Diane, without you, I would not be here today and although you were 10 feet away from me while I stood on the bimah, I felt your presence as if you were standing by my side. Your teaching ways have been inspirational and so has your love, dedication, friendship and incredible support. To my classmates, you made Tuesday Nights so fun and very special. I will cherish our dinners before class, learning Hebrew together, and all the checking in with each other. You are all so special and I thank each and every one of you for your love and support and for helping make this dream of mine come true. I have loved every minute taking this incredible journey with all of you.

Lucille Shalometh Goldin: When I was growing up not having attended a Temple there was no focus on becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Instead, the big party was my sweet 16. I want to thank my parents for always making sure I knew I was Jewish much of this through our involvement at North Valley Jewish Community Center. We have been Or Ami Partners for over 15 years. I watched my husband Paul become an adult Bar (2008) Mitzvah followed by my son Ryan (2009). As the years passed, I watched other Adults encouraged by Diane Townsend, our Hebrew teacher, Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia take the class, study and get on the bema to read Hebrew from the Torah. They sang together chanting the prayers, all ages of adults most never reading Hebrew before. Finally, two years ago it was my time I was ready for this journey. Week after week with the Encouragement from Diane Townsend our Class met on Tuesday evenings at the Temple we quickly bonded together. When the pandemic hit and we had to switch over to meeting on Zoom for a good portion of this past year of class, we didn’t miss a beat. I am honored to be able to share this special milestone with each of my classmates and thank them for all their support. My husband Paul and son Ryan know how much my studying becoming an adult Bat Mitzvah meant to me. I thank them for allowing me the time and space for my Tuesday night classes and the studying that followed.  I love you both with all my heart.

Pamela Goldstein: I want to thank my wonderful teacher, Diane. She is such a dedicated, devoted person with unlimited patience! She “claims” to have a hearing loss and yet she could hear when I didn’t pronounce the “Chas” or dropped a final sound of a word. Diane unselfishly gave of her time and was my biggest cheerleader. I want to thank Rabbi Paul and Cantor Doug for my desire to become a Bat Mitzvah. Going to Israel with Rabbi Paul and Cantor Doug was a life changing experience.  After that trip, I wanted more. I wanted to thank my classmates.  You made this journey to become a Bat Mitzvah even more special.  We laughed, we cried, we supported each other. For my dear family and friends, thank you for your ongoing encouragement. Thank you to my sons, Jared and Zachary, my daughter in laws Nicki and Debbie, and my grandchildren Jackson, Conor, and Emma. Now best for last, I had my in-house audience of my husband, Mike.  While you “encouraged” me to practice my Hebrew where you couldn’t hear me, you ended up humming my Aliyah without realizing it.

Susie Guldbeck: I extend my heartfelt love and appreciation to those who have assisted in making this evening come to fruition. The collective wisdom, leadership and spiritual guidance given generously by Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia were immeasurable and a true blessing. Thank you to my 8 B’nai Mitzvah classmates … we laughed, studied, stressed, and accomplished so much beginning with the Woolsey fires thru Covid-19. We stuck together through it all. Your friendships on this shared journey will be cherished forever.  To Diane Townsend… thank you for the gracious giving of your time, energy and commitment.  You kept me focused and motivated when I didn’t think I could master the Hebrew letters, words and prayers.  Your continuous encouragement, your teaching skills, your endless patience, and fond friendship enabled me to achieve my aspiration of becoming a B’nai Mitzvah. To my Mom and Dad, thank you for instilling within me a solid foundation of the importance of Jewish values and traditions. I love you and I thank you. Jason and Danielle, you are my shining lights and inspiration who teach me daily the meaning of unconditional family love. You bring incredible joy into my life every day. To the rest of my family and friends, thank you for being here tonight to celebrate this simcha with me. You have enriched my life in all ways and I am so grateful to every one of you.  

Holly Hollander: I want to thank quite a few people for seeing me through these two years of Hebrew study that culminated in my becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Our beyond-amazing teacher Diane Townsend has a never-ending well of patience and encouragement, and she used every bit on me.  I want to thank Congregation Or Ami for making this possible in the first place and Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia for their constant support. My Hebrew classmates are a terrific group of new friends who continually cheered each other on and made this so incredibly fun and feeling possible to accomplish. I am extremely grateful for each one of you.  

I want to thank my children, Ethan, Colin, and Aviva, who had to listen to me practice chanting. They were understanding and empathic when I struggled, reminding me that since they had done it, I could too. All three of my kids pushed me to take this challenge on, knowing it was an unfulfilled dream, now accomplished. I was continually supported by my group of close friends: Debbie, Melissa, and Shawn who heard about my struggles and successes. Shawn served as a role model for me and knows what I needed to hear to keep at it.  Several of my co-workers also cheered me on. I also want to thank Maryann for all she’s given and taught me and all of the others in the group for their love. My brother Andy and sister-in-law Karen have always come through for me and my family and I could not do it without knowing that they are in my corner always. Life is about people and I’ve got great ones in my life who held me up as I took on learning the prayers of our people in our Hebrew language. Thank you so very, very much!

Dana Shine: I would like to express my appreciation to Rabbi Paul, Cantor Doug, and Rabbi Julia for the love, support and guidance I have received over the many years.  A special thank you to my teacher, Diane Townsend, your dedication is why I was able to become a Bat Mitzvah. You helped me and supported me through 2 years of ups and downs in my life. You believed in me when I could not believe in myself. I will be forever grateful to you. Thank you to my mom for always being my number one fan and reminding me that I could do it when I wanted to quit. To my three incredible boys, Brandon, Spencer, and Blake, thank you for always supporting and encouraging me. I am so blessed to have you in my life. To my ex-husband Danny, thank you for always being there for me. To Eric, my boyfriend, thank you for your unconditional love and support. And to my B’nai Mitzvah classmates, thank you for your friendships. I am so thankful to have gone through this journey with all of you.