B Mitzvah Program Graduates Present Personal Projects
Simcha SpotlightBar Mitzvah

B Mitzvah Program Graduates Present Personal Projects

JKG students completed the B Mitzvah program with a presentation of their personal interest projects, which focused on a wide range of Jewish-focused research and charitable causes.

The afternoon cohort sings the Havdalah prayers. From left to right, back row: Zoe Diamond-Wilding, Tali Donsky, Lilah Didier-Sober and Oliver Yoxall. Front row: Leah Weingast, Nathaniel Abcug, Marlowe Greenberg, Nora Baruch, Evelyn Golubock, Lauren Kaplan and Madison Neidorf.
The afternoon cohort sings the Havdalah prayers. From left to right, back row: Zoe Diamond-Wilding, Tali Donsky, Lilah Didier-Sober and Oliver Yoxall. Front row: Leah Weingast, Nathaniel Abcug, Marlowe Greenberg, Nora Baruch, Evelyn Golubock, Lauren Kaplan and Madison Neidorf.

On Sunday, May 29, two cohorts of Jewish Kids Groups B Mitzvah students completed their two-year program with an outdoor ceremony at Heritage Sandy Springs. The B Mitzvah program, the follow-up to JKG’s Jewish After-School program, consists largely of charity-focused work concentrating on Jewish values.

This is the fifth year the program is holding a ceremony.

“It’s not about the party at the end,” said JKG Director Ana Robbins, “it’s about the two years leading up to that.”

With parents Andrew and Martha watching in the background, Evelyn Golubock describes becoming interested in poetry, and then using that interest to explore the difficult topics of antisemitism and the Holocaust.

In the second year of the program, students chose a topic of personal interest to them and explored it throughout the year as their personal interest project (PIP). This culminated in the B Mitzvah ceremony, in which students explained their projects to their peers and family and received blessings from their parents. While the ice cream truck, balloons, presents, giant Jenga and other field games were enjoyable, the highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the students’ chosen projects.

The two cohorts, totaling 17 students, were split into two ceremonies, one taking place in the morning and the other in the afternoon. B Mitzvah director Sydney Popsuj introduced the students at the beginning of each ceremony. The day was windy, and both sets of students found it hard to keep a tight grip on their papers.

Families of the afternoon cohort B-Mitzvahs applaud them at the end of the ceremony.

The PIPs included a wide range of topics. Several students focused on the Holocaust, exploring the stories of those who had experienced it. Jude Anstey spoke about Dutch watchmaker Corrie ten Boom, who, along with her family, hid hundreds of Jews in her house in the Netherlands — a house he recreated in Minecraft for his PIP. Theo Nash presented on Irene Hasenberg Butter, a Holocaust survivor and author of the book “Shores Beyond Shores,” whom he was able to personally interview.

Several students focused on antisemitism. Michael Friedman focused on recent incidents of antisemitism in Atlanta, Tali Donsky made an animated short film about the rise of antisemitism, and Evelyn Golubock focused on grasping antisemitism through art, making a zine — a small book of poetry and short stories — exploring the topic.

Director of the B-Mitzvah program, Sydney Popsuj, speaks before the morning ceremony.

Two students focused on Jewish mythology. Jaxson Rosenhaft explored the connection between Greek and Jewish myths and stories, while Lilah Didier-Sober created tarot card art inspired by her exploration of Jewish folklore/mysticism.

Others focused on famous Jews whom they looked up to. Nathaniel Abcug learned about various Jewish baseball players and made “baseball cards” that used their connections to Judaism instead of the traditional baseball stats. Abcug also made cards based on his classmates. Nora Baruch made a slideshow/matching game featuring her favorite Jewish photographers. Lauren Kaplan focused on five Jewish women who inspired her, and painted their portraits, including her relative, Regina Gilbert-Baskin, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Nora Baruch (middle) holds the Havdalah candle, while Marlowe Greenberg (left), Evelyn Golubock (right), and the rest of the afternoon cohort sing the Havdalah prayers.

Two students focused on tikkun olam and sustainability. Grant Kingsbury worked with Repair the World, helping impoverished communities in Atlanta through gardening and agricultural services. Zoe Diamond-Wilding focused on climate change and worked with local nonprofit Concrete Jungle on urban foraging and farming.

After the ceremony, Jaxon Rosenhaft, using one hand to hold his ice cream, explains the similarities and differences between Jewish and Greek myths with the other.

Other PIP topics included various acts of charity and study. Avi Haimovitz collected donations of toys for kids in the hospital. Julius Pierce researched how COVID-19 affected animal shelters and adopted a dog. Zack Shores explored the community side of Judaism at the JCC. Marlowe Greenberg researched and baked traditional Jewish pastries. Oliver Yoxall volunteered at the Breman Home, in the assisted-living section.

Bar mitzvah Michael Friedman discusses how he chose to focus on recent antisemitic incidents after learning of antisemitic graffiti found at two high schools near where he lived.

After the presentations, students led a brief Havdalah ceremony, were presented with gift bags and came to the front to be showered with candy. The students then went to the back field, where they had a chance to physically present their projects, as well as get ice cream and play some field games. As part of the very last JKG craft project, the parents were invited to sign their students’ challah covers.

For more information about the B Mitzvah program, visit https://www.jewishkidsgroups.com/bnei-mitzvah

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