Bat­mitz­vah ‘girls’ share sto­ries with stu­dents

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

THREE WOMEN who at­tend Jewish Care’s Bren­ner Community Centre in Stam­ford Hill cel­e­brated be­lated bat­mitz­vahs this week in the com­pany of 26 JFS year-seven pupils who have par­tic­i­pated in a joint bnei mitz­vah pro­gramme.

As well as mark­ing the rite of pas­sage, the pro­gramme was de­signed to inspire pupils to con­sider their re­spon­si­bil­ity to the wider community through ac­tiv­i­ties such as vol­un­teer­ing.

On vis­its to the Bren­ner, stu­dents heard sto­ries about the lives of mem­bers, looked at old photos and dis­cussed the dif­fer­ences be­tween be­ing a 13-year-old then and now. Pupils also helped mem­bers cre­ate a col­lage of their life.

At the clos­ing cer­e­mony at the school’s Wohl syn­a­gogue, which was at­tended by fam­i­lies of the cel­e­brants, Sadie Levy, 84, Celia Kos­min­sky, 93, and Jean Is­lin, 86, were pre­sented with cer­tifi­cates by Lord Levy, pres­i­dent of both Jewish Care and JFS..

“It was very emo­tional,” said Mrs Is­lin, sur­rounded by gen­er­a­tions of her fam­ily. “I didn’t ex­pect it. We loved the chil­dren. They worked so hard with us mak­ing us col­lages and po­ems. We learned from them and them from us. It was truly a tremen­dous day.” Mrs Kos­min­sky, whose great-nephew and great-niece at­tended, re­flected: “I was one of 11 chil­dren. I sin­cerely wished my mum and dad could have been here to­day. The girls from this school have been fab­u­lous to me. They have taught me what I’d have liked to have been taught at that age. But Mum had a lot to do and I helped her a lot as she was ill. To­day has been won­der­ful.”

Mrs Levy had been ner­vous “but it was all mar­vel­lous. The chil­dren who came to see us were fan­tas­tic and we re­ally got to know each other. This is an hon­our.”

Among stu­dents who ad­dressed the cer­e­mony was Ta­mar Si­las, who said Mrs Kos­min­sky, in par­tic­u­lar, had in­spired her “with fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries about her life when she was my age. I loved hear­ing her tell us all about her sib­lings and her Fri­day-night din­ners.

“We made a col­lage to­gether about how life has changed over time and how dif­fer­ent it was to be Jewish in those days.

“It made me re­alise how lucky I am that I have the op­por­tu­nity to go to Jewish schools and I have grown up some­where where I can be Jewish. I will re­mem­ber this for the rest of my life.”

Wel­com­ing guests, JFS in­for­mal Jewish ed­u­ca­tor Aaron Wunsh re­called: “I had my own bar­mitz­vah at this school. As we pre­pare for Pe­sach to read the Hag­gadah and pass on the story of the Ex­o­dus to our chil­dren, we learn that con­ti­nu­ity is so im­por­tant to the Jewish people to keep this con­nec­tion moving from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. This is what we are see­ing here to­day.”

Lord Levy told cel­e­brants they were “fan­tas­tic role mod­els. You’ve given us some­thing we’ll never for­get.”

As part of the pro­gramme, stu­dents also had the op­por­tu­nity to quiz Jewish Care chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Mor­ris and trus­tee and vice-chair Deb­bie Fox about the char­ity’s work and heard an in­spi­ra­tional talk from Si­mon Davies on liv­ing with dis­abil­ity.

A num­ber of the par­tic­i­pants will be sign­ing up for Jewish Care’s 10k bnei mitz­vah walk in May. The route starts and fin­ishes at Jewish Care fa­cil­i­ties with a stop on the way for tea with res­i­dents at the Clore Manor home in Hen­don. The walk is open to year seven and eight pupils from any school.

The ma­ture cel­e­brants with other mem­bers of the bnei mitz­vah group — and (right) Jean Is­lin re­ceives gifts from Bella Sarano and Jenna New­grosh

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