Diane Zipperstein: The Amazing Adult B’Mitzvah Journey

This Saturday and next, 14 adults will chant from the Torah before the congregation for the first time. The B’nai Mitzvah will be the result of eleven months of study.

Our class is made up of students young and not as young. We have a wide variety of life experience. Some of us never had the opportunity because it wasn’t offered or available to us or not deemed important by us when it was offered. Some of us found Judaism later in life. For all of us, we can now say our decision to pursue a B’nai Mitzvah came at the right time.

CBB is lucky to have many wonderful teachers. Alisse Block was ours. Alisse has been teaching CBB’s B’nai Mitzvah classes for roughly 20 years. She currently also teaches Hebrew and serves as a private B’nai Mitzvah tutor.

As our Director of Jewish Learning Programs Jen Lewis said, “She has helped so many young adults reach their B’nai Mitzvah with understanding and a love of Torah. Her humor, knowledge and dedication are what makes her an amazing teacher for any age student. The bar is high at CBB and her students continually rise above it!”

Every few years, CBB offers the adult B’nai Mitzvah class. Dealing with adult learners can have its own challenges, and Alisse handled our class with respect and a lot of humor. To many of us, becoming B’mitzvah was an intimidating item on our Jewish journey. Alisse held our proverbial hand and showed us the joy and excitement of study.

Our class began in January with learning to read and pronounce Hebrew words in the siddur. Month by month, Alisse would explain the history and meaning of each prayer. If a task seemed overwhelming, Alisse always volunteered to give us extra time to help us overcome each challenge.

She slowly built confidence in each of us to take this important step forward and has given us the keys to unlock the mystery of Torah. Her patience and breadth of knowledge has answered our questions and prepared us for this moment when we will experience the joy of reading and chanting Torah. She has explained beautifully the order and meaning of the service and by doing so, made services more accessible and relevant.

Todah rabah, Alisse, from each and every one of us. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in helping us reach this milestone.

And thank you to CBB, and to Cantor Childs and Rabbi Cohen, for offering this transformative experience which has been a blessing for us all.

Diane Zipperstein serves as President of the CBB Board of Trustees.