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Jeremy Benjamin (Malachai Benyamin) Simon, grandson of Ellen Bierhorst of Cincinnati, was called to the Torah on July 4.  They gathered, 15 of them (the maximum allowed), at the outdoor sanctuary of Shalom Park, a retirement facility in Denver.  Another 400 people attended via video conferencing, thanks to an account that the University of Denver donated to Professor Anna Sher, Jeremy’s mother. They wore masks and sat six feet from anyone not in their immediate family.  

Jeremy Simon with his grandmother Ellen Bierhorst at his bar mitzvah’s dress rehearsal

Jeremy Simon with his grandmother Ellen Bierhorst at his bar mitzvah’s dress rehearsal

 

They had a dear friend be their “tech master,” letting people in from the waiting room.  For 30 minutes before the service began at 9:30, attendees could watch a music-background slide show of each year of Jeremy’s life.  

Anna had created a beautiful siddur just for the occasion.  Her mother, Bierhorst, had made one for Anna’s bat mitzvah in Cincinnati 37 years ago. Because Jeremy’s portion featured an angel with a magic sword and because he has a deep interest in swords, this was the theme.  

“I was the only relative present physically and I represented all the other grandparents and other family,” said Bierhorst.  “We did feel like they were all “there” with us. Our tech guy had set up a huge TV monitor so all 15 of us present could see the virtual guests with speaking parts, and yet, we were all truly glad that I was there.  When we imagined Jeremy’s bar mitzvah without any physical presence of grandparents it felt pretty sad.”  

For his haftorah Jeremy played the violin part for Shir Mishpat by Noam Katz and Anna sang harmony while the cantor played guitar and sang.  

“We all cried, ‘Love justice, seek mercy, walk humbly with your God,’” said Bierhorst. “It was so moving to me as I read a poem by Rami Shapiro about the Shema, I could hardly get it out.”  

At one point, the video app seemed to be saturated for its band width and the sound cut out for the online listeners, but fortunately one of the virtual guests was a TV personality who entertained from the “chat box.”  The rabbi (also online) suggested that people shut off their video feed to minimize bandwidth demand and the sound returned.  

After the ceremony, they served catered box lunches.

Eric Burns and Meredith (Steiner)  with Phillip Graham Burns  and his brother baby Joey Bailey Burns

Eric Burns and Meredith (Steiner)  with Phillip Graham Burns  and his brother baby Joey Bailey Burns

 

Ellen and Corky Steiner are proud to announce that their daughter, Meredith, recently presented them with a baby boy named Joey Bailey Burns. Baby Burns also has a 2-year-old brother, Phillip Graham Burns. Meredith and Eric reside in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Sherri Friedman

Sherri Friedman

 

Sherri Friedman, with help from a variety of Jewish and other organizations, held a pep rally for at-risk children as part of Most Valuable Kids. Two hundred children and their families participated in a socially-distanced pep rally at the Amberley Village Police and Fire Department on Saturday, June 27. 

Together with her friends in the Jewish community, led by Allison Caller, Chrissie Blatt, Rini Levy and Evelyn Fisher, drives were coordinated to collect the items agencies participating in the program said the kids and their families needed—especially personal hygiene items and fun activities to do at home while isolated.  

At the pep rally, vans and cars filled with kids pre-selected to participate were given a time to drive through the rally route.  Upon arrival, all kids received face masks and were greeted by local team mascots.  People from a variety of organizations in masks distributed goodies to the kids who reached out from the safety of their cars.  All kids received food packs, personal hygiene kits, arts and crafts and outdoor fun packs.

“Our Jewish community really answered the call to help provide for kids in need,” said Friedman. 

Sherri Friedman lives in Amberley Village with her husband Tedd Friedman, who co-founded the agency with her, and their two sons. She is the daughter-in-law of Jane and the late Fred Friedman and daughter of Brenda and Ira Jaffe of Farmington Hills, Michigan. 

“We couldn’t have done it without Chief Wallace and the Amberley Village Municipal Building staff,” said Friedman.  “In addition to the use of their facility, they brought out fire trucks, police cars and the canine unit for the children to see.” 

If you have good news, email me at social@AmericanIsraelite.com.

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