Grapevine: Transition to manhood

A bar mitzvah is a significant celebration at any time and for every family, but for a congregation, it’s even more so when it’s the rabbi’s son whose bar mitzvah is being celebrated.

Cooper Lifshutz, grandson of Rabbi Lt.-Col. Oscar M. Lifshutz, celebrates his bar mitzvah in Jerusalem (photo credit: COURTESY LIFSHUTZ FAMILY)
Cooper Lifshutz, grandson of Rabbi Lt.-Col. Oscar M. Lifshutz, celebrates his bar mitzvah in Jerusalem
(photo credit: COURTESY LIFSHUTZ FAMILY)

■ A bar mitzvah is a significant celebration at any time and for every family, but for a congregation, it’s even more so when it’s the rabbi’s son whose bar mitzvah is being celebrated. Last Saturday, the Hazvi Yisrael synagogue in Talbiya was almost as full as it is on the High Holy Days as regular and occasional congregants plus relatives and friends of Rabbi Yosef Ote, his wife Atira and their children Dorin, Meishor, Shenhav, Litav and Carmel responded to the invitation to join them for the kiddush in honor of Meishor’s bar mitzvah.
Proving that the apple has certainly not fallen far from the tree, Meishor read the Torah portion about Noah – and the haftarah that followed – in a loud, clear voice and at a pace that every congregant who can read Hebrew could follow. Too often, the Torah reader goes at the pace of an express train and rushes his words, making it difficult even for people who are completely fluent in Hebrew, to follow him.
The beautiful, accomplished reading was not the only proof of Meishor’s successful transition into manhood. This was the first time that congregants had seen him wearing a suit and tie, and it gave his appearance a certain maturity that had not been evident a week earlier when he came to services in his usual casual gear.
By contrast, several of the men in the congregation, including US ambassador David Friedman, came without jacket or tie, and in Friedman’s case, even the sleeves of his shirt were partially rolled up. What was interesting was that the ambassador’s security detail was so unobtrusive this time, that Friedman and his wife, Tammy, were able to mingle freely at the kiddush without being obviously surrounded by bodyguards. The Friedmans like the Otes, are the parents of five children, though their children are somewhat older than the Ote brood.
The theme of the Bible reading was repeated at the kiddush, where the cake that was the centerpiece was a large chocolate Noah’s Ark with smaller cakes frosted in assorted colors at different levels that gave the impression that it was a cruise ship for animals. In addition, there were figurines of animals scattered on the tables.
There were also masses of food. Generally, leftovers are given to an institution or organization for the needy, but this time there were so many people that hardly any food was left uneaten.
The Ote celebration was not the only one, which may be another reason for the huge turnout.
Veteran congregants who have known Avraham Levinsky, the son of the congregation’s treasurer, chief cook an bottle washer Menachem Levinsky and his wife Chani, were also celebrating the fact that Avraham was this week marrying Joelle Wlkovitz, the daughter of Anya and Raul Wolkovitz.
■ AN EVEN larger turnout is expected on Thursday evening November 21, at Kehilat Moreshet Avraham, a Masorati synagogue in Talpiot, where a lifetime achievement award will be conferred on Danby Meital in appreciation of her decades of dedicated service to the congregation and the community.
Meital and her husband Marvin, who came on aliya in 1974, were among the founders of Moreshet Avraham, initially hosting services in their home.
A member of the synagogue board for 25 years, Meital also served as president of the congregation, founded its kindergarten and helped to hire the congregation’s first rabbi. She was also responsible for the congregation’s cultural, artistic, educational and youth programming as well as community outreach and the improvement of the physical facilities of the synagogue complex.
Active in the wider Masorti movement, Meital was among the founders of the Tali school system, the Ramah Noam camps and the Noam Youth Movement.
Beyond her Masorti activities, she was also deeply involved with Keren Klita, an organization founded and headed by the late Delysia Jason, who had been a member of the 35s in London and continued her work for Soviet Jews after immigrating to Israel by forming a veritable army of volunteers to make Soviet immigrants feel welcome, to provide them with moral, physical and religious sustenance, and more important than anything else to give them the feeling that they were not alone in this strange new environment. Also in this army was Ella Liberman, the wife of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman, whose command of both Russian and Hebrew made her an invaluable asset.
As if all this was not enough, Meital has also served on the boards of her local community center and of Hadassah Israel.
She and her husband have also been envoys for both the Masorti Movement and for Israel. The Masorti Movement sent them to Melbourne Australia to set up the Masorti Movement there. The Foreign Ministry sent them to Brazil; and Keren Hayesod sent them to Palma de Majorca on behalf of Casa Shalom to inspire more descendants of Jews expelled from Spain to reclaim their identities and their religious heritage.
A fifth-generation member of Hadassah, Meital’s mother made her a lifetime member soon after she was born.
When National Hadassah Israel was founded in 2002, Meital became a member, was named programming chair, and has held that position ever since.
With all that and more under her belt, it will not be surprising that many people from her various walks of life will come to participate in her big night, which is also a fundraiser for the congregation and will include refreshments and entertainment. Participation is NIS 120 per person. For further information call (02) 673-7193.