ECC teacher becomes a bat mitzvah at 52



Bernice Stone fulfills a life-long goal
Bernice Stone fulfills a life-long goal


Howard and Bernice StoneBernice Stone waited 40 years to become a bat mitzvah, but it was worth the wait. On Oct. 5, 2013, she chanted her Torah portion at Temple Beth-El in Providence. Growing up Orthodox, Stone didn’t think that Orthodox girls could become a bat mitzvah. She says, “It was not anything I ever considered.” Last June, she saw a bat mitzvah ceremony at Temple Beth-El of a woman older than she. Stone approached the woman and spoke with her about the experience. Inspired, Stone decided that she, too, would take the steps necessary to prepare for this rite of passage.

An avid cyclist, she rides a recumbent tricycle and, every week during last summer, Stone rode it along the bike path to meet with Paula Bodo, who graciously volunteered her time to teach her. Starting with the Aleph Bet, Bodo patiently taught Stone Hebrew using flashcards. They would chant Torah together, a pastime Stone describes as “a pleasure.” Sharing that she is happiest and most at peace when she is learning something Jewish or riding her tricycle, it’s easy to see why the bat mitzvah preparation appealed to her. The parashat Stone chanted concerned Noah and the Ark, so she also “wrote a bit about the arky arky and gopher wood” to share it with her friends and the temple’s congregation.

Stone is thankful to her husband Howard for his support. Before the big day, Stone’s husband practiced chanting with her, working on perfecting the singing and making her comfortable with the chant. Prior to her chanting of the Torah portion, he was honored with an aliyah. Mr. Stone also bought bagels and challahs for the event. Stone loved hearing him say from the bimah how pleased and proud of her he was. To celebrate, Stone and her guests enjoyed a wonderful brunch at the temple, provided by her friend and co-teacher at Temple Habonim’s ECC Sara Foster and her husband.

At Temple Habonim, Stone teaches Sunday school to third graders. While the daycare housed in the temple is currently on hiatus, Stone is eager to resume teaching there on a daily basis. Currently, she is teaching at the Early Childhood Center at the Alliance JCC in Providence.

An attorney with 22 years experience, she has been studying early childhood education and will receive her certificate shortly. Stone is extremely excited about the achievement because it has been her dream to work with children and she is passionate about being able to finally live it.

Congratulations to Bernice Stone on her bat mitzvah, her determination and her success!