When Leona Rothfeld and her twin brother came of age nearly a century ago, the ceremonial celebration was typically held only for boys. So, while Irving became bar mitzvah in Brooklyn in June of 1932, Leona’s role that day was directing guests to their synagogue. “It just wasn’t done,” she says. Although Leona understood that it was simply the way it was, she never forgot about it, and always felt that something was missing from her life. “I wanted to celebrate my bat mitzvah, too,” she said.
Ninety years later, while speaking with her rabbi here at Gurwin Jewish~ Fay J. Lindner Residences Assisted Living Community, Leona mentioned her life-long dream to commemorate her bat mitzvah; to her delight, the rabbi agreed and our Gurwin staff helped make it happen. And so, just days after her 103rd birthday — during the 100th anniversary year of the first American bat mitzvah — Leona’s dream was fulfilled in a service officiated by Rabbi Rafi Batashvili in the Gurwin synagogue, amongst family, friends and her Gurwin neighbors. “My son told me this is the perfect time to do it,” Leona says. “He said we just remove the ‘0’ from 103, which makes 13 — it was meant to be this way!” She was delighted to finally have the opportunity.
Also celebrating with Leona were her three sons: David (East Islip, NY), Phillip (Michigan) and Elliott (Bellmore, NY), and several of her four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “I’ve thought about this for so many years,” Leona said. “I figure if not now, when?”