These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

To Be A Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem

Posted on June 25, 2017 by Eliana Phansapurkar

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To be a Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem, for an Indian woman in her 20s felt like a dream as women are not obliged to do so in my traditional Bene Israeli Community. I always wanted to read from the Torah and have a Bat Mitzvah ceremony. For nine months at Pardes I prepared to chant my Bat Mitzvah portion. I attended the Trope Class during fall semester taught by Elisa Pearlman. She is an energetic teacher, always instilling confidence to those who struggled. I was one such student since I had never been exposed to trope before.

As I walked in to the Beit Midrash on May 18th, 2017, I was amazed to see so many Pardes teachers and students assembled for the ceremony. Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield was called up for an Aliyah and I was honored to have one of my teachers stand by my side as I chanted the Torah Trope. I finished chanting the three Aliyot. In no time, chocolates poured from every corner of the room and the whole congregation broke in to song and dance. The service was followed by a festive Kiddush. That afternoon, Chef David S. Berman prepared a delicious Indian community lunch.

I want to thank a few people. Tovah Leah Nachmani and Rabbi Avraham Fischer taught me Hebrew and helped me improve my reading skills. Rabbi Howard Markose taught me Biblical Hebrew Grammar and to read words in the Torah precisely. The Student Gabbaim – Miriam Arkush Lorie, Micha Yehudi and Jamie Schwartz always gave words of encouragement and experience. I too attended their sessions wherein they taught people to perform every aspect of the prayer services, further motivating me to undertake more roles in the Jewish world.

Through the process of learning, struggling and finally coming to terms with the Torah, I gained a better understanding of Judaism. Pardes taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what movement you belong to, what color you are, or if you are halakhically Jewish. A Jew has equal rights to study Torah and be an active member of the big or small Jewish world. Thus, in its true sense I became a ‘Daughter of the Commandment’ thanks to the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies!

Click here to see more pictures from the day.

Eliana Phansapurkar