Los Angeles Jewish Home Seniors Reach Goal to Become Bat Mitzvahs A Milestone for the Ages

Share Article

Recently three women celebrated their adult bat mitzvahs at the Home, culminating a period of intensive preparation and personal exploration.

Los Angeles Jewish Home Residents Edith Frankie, Mildred Moccio & Linda Frankes

“It was a privilege to attend the b’not mitzvah of these very special Jewish Home residents,” says Andrew Berman, chair of the Home’s board of directors.

One is never too old to make dreams happen, including the dreams of three women living together at the Los Angeles Jewish Home (LAJH). Known as a destination for Los Angeles-area seniors, LAJH has an environment offering warmth, caring, compassion, and safety. For many seniors, including Edith Frankie, Linda Frankes, and Mildred Moccio, it is also a point of embarkation: a place from which to set out on exciting journeys of growth, self-discovery and making dreams come true. Recently all three women celebrated their adult bat mitzvahs at the Home, culminating a period of intensive preparation and personal exploration.

For these three seniors, who live in one of the Home’s skilled nursing facilities, life is full of meaning, learning and celebrating. For the first time in their long lives, they were able to wrap themselves in a tallit, recite the blessings and perform the customary rituals. By engaging in the deeply spiritual Jewish practice of learning Torah, they moved closer to G-d and Judaism in a most profound way. Linking the past of ancient Jewish text with their peers and how it applies to life today, it brought Torah alive for them and made it relevant to daily life at the Jewish Home.

Edith, Linda, and Mildred’s admirers extend well beyond their immediate families. “It was a privilege to attend the b’not mitzvah of these very special Jewish Home residents,” says Andrew Berman, chair of the Home’s board of directors. “I’m thrilled they were able to experience the joy and fulfillment of this monumental event at this stage of their extraordinary lives.”

Working together with the residents to make this mitzvah possible was Rabbi Karen Bender, the Jewish Home’s Skirball Director of Spiritual Life; Ilana Springer, CEO/Administrator for the Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center; and James Mackay, Administrator for the Mark Taper Skilled Nursing Building.

It was Edith, recalls Rabbi Bender, who provided the initial inspiration for the bat mitzvah event. “Edith is a Holocaust survivor, and she had sponsored an honorary bat mitzvah for her six-year-old sister, who never made it out of the camps,” Rabbi Bender says. “One day, I suggested she consider having her own bat mitzvah, and she quickly embraced the idea.”

From there, Edith picks up the narrative. “I was worried at first because I don’t read Hebrew, but Rabbi Bender was very encouraging about how I could learn,” she says. “I thought, ‘What a terrific way to get revenge on Hitler: to deepen my understanding of Jewish history and culture!’”

Once Edith was on board, Rabbi Bender extended the offer to her Jewish Home congregants at large. Linda and Mildred stepped up immediately.

As the women worked towards becoming a bat mitzvah, they realized:
1.     Achieved something they had never done before
2.     Learned something brand new
3.     Acquired skills they previously did not have
4.     Held a leadership role with their peers
5.     And can teach others

Overcoming a variety of physical challenges and health issues, these remarkable women did all of the above through studying to celebrate their B’not Mitzvah. Their joy and excitement in learning is palpable. The camaraderie that has developed is as strong as it is unexpected and an inspiration to others around them.

For each, the experience had a different and very significant meaning. In their own words, here are excerpts from the remarks they read during the Shabbat service about what it means to have a bat mitzvah

  • Edith Frankie – “For me, it is therefore an honor to become a Bat Mitzvah today, due to that I survived the Holocaust….But, it is an even bigger honor for me to be doing this for me and my little sister, Lilike, who never had a chance to become a Bat Mitzvah.”
  • Mildred Moccio – “From just converting to Judaism, it brings me closer to G-d. I just feel so proud that I am able to hold the Torah today. And I just feel it makes my children and my friends really proud of me, prouder than they already are!”
  • Linda Frankes – “When I was a little girl, Bat Mitzvahs weren’t often held. I didn’t even know there were Bat Mitzvahs. … Not having had the opportunity to do it when I was young, it means so much to me to have learned a portion of the Torah now.”

Rabbi Bender points out that, in addition to engaging in a life-affirming act for themselves, Edith, Linda, and Mildred have also helped blaze a trail for other seniors like them. “The moral of this story is that you can keep stretching and growing at any age,” she says. “It’s never too late to learn something new.”

About the Los Angeles Jewish Home
Founded in 1912, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Home (LAJH) is among the largest providers of senior healthcare services in Los Angeles. Through its innovative Connections to Care ® program, each year thousands of seniors benefit from the Home’s community-based and in-residence programs. Community-based programs include: A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE); hospice; home health; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Three Home campuses serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. The Home has two Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC), the Gonda Healthy Aging Westside Campus, in Playa Vista, CA and Fountainview at Eisenberg Village in Reseda, CA. . Further information regarding the Jewish Home can be found online at http://www.lajh.org or by calling 855.227.3745.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Stacia Kirby
Kirby Communications
Email >
Visit website