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First adult bat mitzva class at Mt. Freedom Jewish Center
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First adult bat mitzva class at Mt. Freedom Jewish Center

Rabbi Menashe East with members of Mount Freedom Jewish Center’s first adult b’not mitzva class, from left, Madeleine Pasteelnick, Rabbi Menashe East, Marilyn Lampel, Audrey Silverberg, Darsi Beauchamp, Fay
Rabbi Menashe East with members of Mount Freedom Jewish Center’s first adult b’not mitzva class, from left, Madeleine Pasteelnick, Rabbi Menashe East, Marilyn Lampel, Audrey Silverberg, Darsi Beauchamp, Fay

FRIENDS, FAMILY, and fellow congregants gathered at Mount Freedom Jewish Center in Randolph Aug. 20 to hear eight women read from the Torah as they became b’not mitzva — a first for the 90-plus-year Orthodox synagogue.

When Darsi Beauchamp Landmesser approached Rabbi Menashe East last year to tell him of her interest in starting an adult bat mitzva course, he said, “I was ambivalent, to be honest. I know how difficult the process is for student and teacher. But as we began, I was filled with admiration. The women studied their portions religiously, and their commitment was deeply inspirational. It was a holy occasion for the women and our entire community.” 

Each woman was given about 10 sentences to read from the Torah. East met with the women each month to discuss the portion and books of Jewish learning. They came with varied backgrounds; some could read Hebrew, others could barely recognize the letters.

Bat mitzva Audrey Silverberg said, “Our Mount Freedom community is special. The overwhelming support and encouragement from everyone was a blessing. There were times I did not think I could go all the way through with it. It was the other women and their perseverance that helped me. It touched us all.”

Landmesser, a recent convert to Judaism, said, “My intention always is to get closer to God; this is my second step, going forward many more steps to go up the ladder to heaven.”

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