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Perspective and Experience: Adult B'nai Mitzvah

03/31/2022 01:45:09 PM


A trip to Israel as an architecture student at Cal Berkeley proved life-changing  for Lauren Sugarman, leading her to delve into and reclaim her dormant Jewish roots. She will become B'nai Mitzvah Saturday, April 9. 

What inspired you to become B’nai Mitzvah as an adult?
While attending UC Berkeley in the 80’s, I came across a table set up in Sproul Plaza that had work/study programs in Sefat, Israel for only $500 for the summer. I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about my heritage while rebuilding the old city of Sefat. I was an architecture/environmental design major at the time so that caught my interest as well. The program directors were religious Zionists. I knew absolutely nothing about the politics of Israel let alone the religion before going, so to say the least it was an eye opening experience! I really loved the mystical aspect, the old cities and the Jewish cultures in Israel. We got to experience Shabbat at different family’s homes which was one of my favorite parts.

Since that experience in Israel I have wanted to become a B’nai Mitzvah as an adult. 

Why would this experience been more difficult as an adolescent?
It would have been much harder since my family was not part of a Jewish community in Los Angeles. We went to a temple once a year on Kol Nidre (I didn’t know that was what it was called at the time) and my brother did have a Bar Mitzvah which he said was meaningless to him. I was sent to Episcopal school from 3rd grade to 8th grade so knew more at that time about the Christian tradition. I looked forward to going to my best friend’s house every year to decorate her Christmas tree. 

Are you glad you waited?
I am much wiser with life experience and have a deeper appreciation for the richness of Judaism. I have been attending services for the past 3 years at Rodef Sholom and feel comfortable with the community and the clergy here. Plus, it was Cantor David’s last class in his tenure here!

How has your journey to become Bar/Bat Mitzvah been surprising?
Because I have also been studying Hebrew with Alona Rafael, I have been pleasantly surprised to be able to chant my Torah portion in Hebrew and to do it in front of people. It is possible! 

What is your best experience at the synagogue? 
The beautiful voices of all the clergy and the meaningful and inspiring sermons. The sense of community and belonging. 


Tue, March 28 2023 6 Nisan 5783