Annie Ferrans will become a bat mitzvah on Friday, April 30th at 6:15 pm - 7:30 pm. Annie has been diligently working for this experience for the past few years, studying Hebrew, practicing with her tutor and serving the community through a mitzvah project. Annie is thriving (even remotely!) in seventh grade, recently winning a leadership award at her school and being selected for a leadership program through her club soccer team! She loves to play soccer, travel to exotic locations with her family, hang out with her friends and binge watch TV shows including her favorite, Grey's Anatomy. Annie is a wonderful student and maybe even more importantly, a wonderful person who is empathetic and kind to others. We could not be more proud of her - and more excited for this day.
A mitzvah, in the Jewish tradition, is more than a good deed. It is a commandment by G-d to refrain from or do certain things. The Jewish religion mandates over 600 mitzvot from the Jewish people, including what some scholars consider the most important, giving charity. Provisions from the Bible explain that "if there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs." These powerful words not only suggest that it is the right thing to do, but mandate that it is the only thing to do. G-d demands that we help others, rather than merely offering this as a suggestion and it is through these words, that Annie enters the Jewish world.
Annie has demonstrated this innate desire to give back. Whether it is a simplistic request to save leftovers to give to the hungry or organizing a cooking class over Zoom to help individuals fight loneliness during COVID, Annie wants to help and recognizes that it is her responsibility to give back to others. For her mitzvah project, Annie has been working with a friend to prepare hot meals for those locally in need. Every other week, Annie prepares meals for about 50 people. An amazing member of the Livingston community picks up the food and distributes it to those in the most need. These meals have been even more welcome since the pandemic. Annie has also organized other tzedakah with her friends. She made lunch for the homeless and most recently, collected and delivered Valentine's Day treats for women in a local shelter. Annie understands the importance of these activities and considers them part of her life.
Annie's Relatives at 13: Annie is surrounded by love and family, and this is a recognized part of the bat mitzvah tradition. We thought that it would be interesting to see where Annie's closest family members were at the age of 13:
Madelyn Ferrans (Mom): In 1987, Maddie was an active, social seventh grader at Linglestown Junior High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. When Maddie was not watching General Hospital, she was hanging out with her friends (many of whom she is still best friends with today), playing sports, eating 3Bs ice cream or hanging out at the mall. Maddie attended Beth El temple where she went to Hebrew School every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday! She celebrated her bat mitzvah with friends and family at a service at the temple followed by a pool party with a big balloon arch (most memorable part of celebration). She remembers wearing a big, puffy jean skirt and being very scared before chanting her Torah portion.
Mike Ferrans (Dad): 1n 1984, Mike was 13 years. He was in seventh grader at Tilden Middle School in Maryland. He loved playing on soccer teams and hanging out with his friends – many of whom he is still in touch with today. Mike spent weekends watching sports, including his favorite Washington football team. Mike went to his first two concerts at this age with his sister and brother - Prince's Purple Rain and Duran Duran.
Gloria Ferrans (Grandmother): Gloria grew up in Baranquilla, Colombia - a beautiful beach town located in northern Colombia. When Gloria was younger, she loved spending time with her sister and best friend, Elvy, and brother, Alfred. Gloria had tons of friends from her private school, many of which she still talks to today! Annie had the chance to visit the school in Colombia. Gloria and her friends loved going to the movies (always the matinee) and hanging out at each other's houses (though they never had a sleepover!). Every weekend, her parents would take Gloria and her siblings to the beach. Gloria had a huge celebration for her 15th birthday, a quinceanera. Her brother graduated high school that year, so they had a combined party at their house, filled with girls and boys. Everyone ate Colombian food and a huge cake and danced all night! All attendants had to wear white except for Gloria, the birthday girl who wore her favorite color, blue.
Victor Ferrans (Grandfather): In 1950, Victor was 13 years old. He lived in Baranquilla, Colombia. He was passionate about soccer - and played often with his friends in the streets where they would use bricks as goal posts. Victor loved spending time with his friends especially Ugo, whose parents were originally from Italy. It is through Ugo that Victor learned Italian and a love for opera! Victor was an outstanding student with a passion for science (and a photographic memory). Only three years later, his parents would send him to college in the United States, followed by medical school at Tulane at age 18. Victor then went on to earn his PhD, too. Victor started teaching medical school at age 22.
Susan Shapiro (Grandmother): In 1960, Susan, a social 13 year old with two sisters, was living in Pittsburgh, PA. She was in eighth grade and lived on 1448 Shady Avenue. She loved talking with her cousins through the clothes chute and making taffy during lunch. Susan would often walk downtown to Squirrel Hill where she would meet friends, buy magazines at the newsstands, and talk about her favorite star, Carol Lindley. Susan volunteered with disabled children at a home across the street and worked with a patient with polio. She attended Hebrew School, where she vividly remembers passing notes to her sister, Margaret, and giggling at the funny stories the teacher would tell. Due to the times, Susan (nor her sisters) had a bat mitzvah.
Ron Shapiro (Grandfather): In 1958, Ron was a seventh grader at Susquehanna Middle School. Ron loved to play tennis, hang out on Green Street, and go to functions at the JCC. Almost all of Ron's first cousins lived within two blocks of each other in Harrisburg. Ron celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at Beth El Temple with his sister, Lynne, and his amazing parents, Fran and Julius. He had a wonderful celebration filled with a big band and lots of dancing!