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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

August 25, 2017  RSS feed
Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

Text: T T T

Cousins bridge distance divide to celebrate together


Grandmothers share joy at the B’nai Mitzvah of Rehna Halprin, second from left, and Abrianna Lalle. Far left, Rehna’s grandmother who came from Russia for the occasion, Zoya Tatarkina, and far right, Bette Schroeder, bubbe to both girls. Grandmothers share joy at the B’nai Mitzvah of Rehna Halprin, second from left, and Abrianna Lalle. Far left, Rehna’s grandmother who came from Russia for the occasion, Zoya Tatarkina, and far right, Bette Schroeder, bubbe to both girls. Nothing – not even a 230- mile, four-hour car ride - could keep cousins and best friends, Rehna Halprin and Abrianna Lalle, apart for their Bat Mitzvah.

“The girls basically decided that they were going to do this together and share it, and then they left the adults to handle the logistics,” said Abrianna’s mom, Debbie Halprin.

Debbie and her two girls live in Weston, although her roots are in St. Petersburg where Rehna and her parents, Natalya and Mike Halprin, still reside.

The girls dreamed up plans via frequent text messages, FaceTime calls and during summers at Camp Shalom near Ocala.

It was actually nothing new for the families. Almost 40 years ago, Michael and Debbie fondly recall their sister’s shared her Bat Mitzvah with a cousin.

It also made sense for their large shared family members to come for one big celebration instead of asking them – especially the out-of-towners – to make the trip to Florida twice in a matter of months.

But while it sounded like a great idea, there were complications, particularly when it came to discrepancies in the girls’ Hebrew training.

Rehna had been attending Hebrew school regularly in preparation for her bat mitzvah, but Abrianna, who was used to attending a Chabad center in South Florida, had little to no Hebrew training.

In the months leading up to the big day, Abrianna worked diligently to teach herself Hebrew. With very little outside help, she used some online resources to help her perfect her pronunciation.

When it came time for the ceremony at Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg, both girls performed admirably, mom Debbie said.

On the big day, friends and family members gathered to support the cousins, including a very special guest, Rehna’s grandmother from Russia. Unfortunately, Rehna’s grandfather from Russia declined to attend, not fully understanding the significance of a Bat Mitzvah. It was a decision he later regretted upon seeing photos of the ceremony and party, according to the family.

As a tribute to mom Natalya’s Russian heritage and her family visiting from Russia, Rabbi Michael Torop incorporated a prayer in Russian into the service.

“It was a lovely thing for the rabbi to do this for us,” Debbie said.

Following the formal B’nai Mitzvah service on Shabbat morning, attended by close friends and family members, there was a luncheon in the temple social hall. Later that night, 200 guests attended the B’nai Mitzvah celebration at a rented mansion in Tampa.

– JAMIE SHAPIRO


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