Muswell Hill Synagogue
Shabbat Parasha Miketz 3/4 December 3.39pm 4.47pm

Our special Bar and Bat Mitzvah event

Something special happened on Shabbat October 16th. Seven young people who had not been able to celebrate their Bar or Batmitzvah in Synagogue due to the pandemic, held a celebration together. Harry Darsa, Avi Allon and Max Pollack were called to the Torah and recited the blessings; and Amelia Marks, Bea Gilbert, Jess Braham and Naomi Katzir each gave a mini speech. The atmosphere was so beautiful in Shul, with so many family members and Synagogue members in attendance and there was an air of thankfulness in the room that we could actually do such a celebration, with a lovely hot Kiddush afterwards. Below you can read the speeches given by the four girls. Enjoy – and of course mazaltov to all who took part.


Amelia Marks

Good morning everybody, I’m Amelia and I hope you are all having a good start to the weekend.

It’s so lovely that I’m able to speak in shul today. Last year, during the first lockdown, I had my bat mitzvah on Zoom which became a very important moment, despite the uncertainty of whether it would be in person or virtual.   As lockdown started with the closure of schools and shops, we realised my batmitzvah had to be on Zoom. Initially, I didn’t want a virtual batmitzvah – all I wanted was to have it in shul with lots of sweets being thrown but after seeing Kezia’s on zoom I was inspired and I know I inspired many others. After thinking for some time about it, I realised that this wasn’t an entirely negative experience; there were lots of positives. Many family members and friends who previously couldn’t make it, were able to join the Zoom and the Rabbi and male relatives could also hear me leyn which would not have been possible if my bat mitzvah had been in shul. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, you would have seen my Dad’s embarrassing dancing although he was wearing swimming trunks on Zoom!

However, it is so nice to be together and in person with my family, some friends and you all in the Muswell hill synagogue. The pandemic has been tough on everyone including the Jewish community so it is really nice to be given this opportunity today to be in shul as the pandemic has started to subside, even if we still have to wear masks and take various covid precautions. I would like to thank Rabbi David for his guidance throughout the years from Yeladanu to the Poland trip, to batmitzvah planning and for the gift of the shabbat candles that I light every week. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support throughout the pandemic and I would especially like to thank my parents for always being by my side and my amazing siblings, Rory and Edie, if they’re not being too annoying- I love you all so much

Thank you for listening and Shabbat Shalom!


Jessica Braham

Hi,  I am Jessica and I read my portion over zoom in October 2020 during the second lock down.

I started off by learning my portion with Josh Gaventa as my teacher, but this had to discontinue as we could not do face to face classes anymore. 

Instead, we decided that my dad would teach me my portion – as he was working from home and I was home schooling. Another positive is that as well as myself, my brother Oliver and my dad have all happened to have the same portion ‘Bereshit’, as their barmitzvah portions, so my Dad knew it really well.

‘Bereshit’ is, of course, the first portion in the Torah. It is about the creation of the world and I can see how that it relates to today as we are looking at a new beginning after the pandemic.

While it was nice to leyn over zoom and it meant family from as far away as Israel and Australia could watch me do it when they would not have been able to attend in normal circumstances, I had really wanted to read my portion in shul, so I am really pleased to be able to be here today in front of the community to acknowledge my bat-mitzvah.  And it will be really great to have a real live bat mitzvah party too which I am now going to share with my brother Eli.

It was so nice to be back in shul for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and to be able to feel like a community again . I want to say thank you to Rabbi David for organising for us to be here today. It’s good to be back.


Bea Gilbert

Hi everyone my name is Bea. The last couple of years have been very weird. Online work and zooms calls pretty much sums up my lockdown I don’t know about you. I am very glad everything is going back to normal like being able to be in school and see my friends and even being here today.


My online Bat mitzvah was very special. Before Shabbat came in on the Friday night we had a zoom call with my extended family where we did a family quiz and brought in Shabbat together. Throughout the weekend family and friends came to do door stop visits, as that was all that was permitted at the time. My online bat mitzvah ceremony included my Dava Torah, readings, thoughts from Rabbi David and closed with singing od yavo shalom aleinu. Even though I was very nervous it  is something I will never forget.


Yet I still would have rather been here in the shul I grew up in, saying my Dava Torah in front of family, friends and the community. My parasha was Nasso which is about God commanding Aaron to bless the Jewish people. The blessing is used to bless children on Friday night, their bar or bat mitzvas and on their wedding day. Covid-19 really taught me to count my blessings and not to take anything or anyone for granted. Preparing for my Dava Torah taught me about my culture, the importance of Jewish history, what it means to be a Jewish adult. As well as important life lessons I can take into my future. For me a very big part of my life is my religion, celebrating with family and seeing my community in shul. I am very glad to see everyone here today and thank you very much for listening.


Naomi Katzir

Two years ago, we started a journey, a journey which was mostly indoors, we didn’t cross the desert, we didn’t climb mountains, and we didn’t end up in Egypt. Our journey was internal, we adapted, we learned how to be together, even though, physically we were apart.

We got a set of rules and masks and stayed at home with the family rather than explore the world. I missed two birthdays, but I gained maturity and had a lot of time to reflect and observe the changes in the world.

Two years ago, we believed that this world is safe, but now we are adults, we are now starting to understand the meaning of adulthood. The world that we are living in is now a bit different: I celebrate now my Bat Mitzva even though I am 13 years old, like boys; there are pandemics, fires, floods, and global warming, it’s not just something that we see on the TV, it’s part of our lives, and we can’t ignore it any longer…

In a way. Avraham Avinu was lucky, he went on a long international travel, he didn’t have to do a Covid test, or wear masks, or self isolates.

I would like to thank Rabbi David for organizing the event and for Josh for keeping the weekly zoom meetings as the pandemic kept us indoors.


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