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Three Generations to Celebrate B’not Mitzvah Together at Temple Shalom

[by Dr. Richard Goldwin]

As a young girl, Rachel Goldwin loved the idea that she was Jewish, even though she might not have understood its full meaning. She enjoyed the holidays, food and even rituals that made her different than her cousins.

Her mother, Elizabeth (O’Brien), grew up in a Catholic home, attending and graduating from parochial school before she met future husband, Larry, through mutual friends in River Forest, IL. Beth eventually converted to Judaism before their marriage.

Rachel’s paternal grandmother, Ellen (LaVine), attended Conservative synagogue as a youngster, but had no formal religious training.

On April 30, all three will be called to the Torah in Temple Shalom’s first-ever triple b’not mitzvah.

Rachel originally attended the Montessori academy at Coleridge Taylor School after moving to Louisville in 2005. In the middle of the school year, she transferred to Eliahu Academy where she was able to further pursue her love of Judaism. She followed her 18 months at Eliahu with two years at Torah Academy and the Louisville Jewish Day School and became quite fluent in ritual Hebrew, able to daven and lead many of the prayers at Saturday morning services.

Beth has always been active in her daughters’ schooling, volunteering for a variety of tasks and keeping up with their education. Often found in the school kitchen, she has also served as unofficial portrait photographer for the Louisville Jewish Day School over the past couple of years. A frequent participant at services, Beth developed an increasing appreciation of the liturgy, even in Hebrew. Recently she has taken the adult Hebrew classes led by Dafna Schnur.

Ellen has served for more than a dozen years as secretary of Temple Shalom, a position that has allowed her to have her own input into the governance of the congregation. She is a Melton Mini School graduate and has spent much time improving her familiarity with Shabbat service Hebrew, occasionally saying how she missed the opportunity to have a bat mitzvah of her own.

As Rachel began planning for her bat mitzvah her enthusiasm and excitement became almost infectious, and when asked what she would think about her mother and grandmother joining in the celebration her response was an immediate “Wow. Of course!”

Initially Rabbi Miles had some hesitation, but as he reflected on the idea, looked at the Torah portion for the week and spoke with Rachel about her feelings, he too saw a unique opportunity for four generations (Ellen’s father, Hal LaVine, will also be there) to journey together.

All that remained from that point was dividing the Torah parsha into sections with meaning for each of the “girls” and practice, practice, practice. The end result will be shared with our Temple Shalom family and family from New York to Florida to California.

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