Story On Birthright Program

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On Sunday December 6th 2009, at 23 years old I had my Bat Mitzvah!  by   Shana Urban
After I returned from my Birthright Trip in Israel, I was told of an organization called the JEC that had an office in Manhattan right on 14th Street where I can continue to participate in Jewish Events.  I took some Hebrew classes as well as volunteered for food drives for elderly Jewish residents of NY.  Although I enjoyed all the different things I involved myself in with the JEC, my most memorable experience was my Bat Mitzvah.
The classes were held weekly for 2 months, 2 1/2hrs a class about 25 people large and lead by Rabbi Lawrence.  We were provided with the Jewish Bible and learning materials.  Rabbi Lawrence was incredibly funny and a great teacher.  We left our classes with laughs and homework/study.  He wasn’t as interested in lecturing us about religion as he was about our Jewish Heritage which I really appreciated.
Each class involved an hour of Hebrew Reading and then focused on a particular topic: Jewish History, Holidays, Shabbat, understanding good “midot”, even particapating in a faux Jewish Wedding!   We had a couple of off-site classes as well, one was at the Jewish Center on the Upper West Side with Rabbi Hirt where we learned all about the Torah.
On the final ceremony day, My Bat Mitzvah!,, we all gathered with our families and friends at Synagogue that was catered very nicely for the event.  There were over 100 people there, one of the attendants was Michael Steinhardt who is one of the founders and donors of Birthright Israel.  Each one of us prepared a speech about our interpretation about a particular verse from the Jewish Bible, my speech was based off Bha’alotcha (Numbers 8-12).

The experience is one I will never forget and I’m forever grateful to the JEC and Birthright for allowing me this opportunity to have a Bat Mitzvah and learn more about my Jewish heritage.

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