Marianne Stern

Celebrating a Journey of Faith: Marianne’s Belated Bat Mitzvah


Marianne’s journey through Jewish education began modestly as a child, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who had freshly immigrated, striving to establish a new life in a foreign land. A Jewish school was a luxury her parents couldn’t afford, and the tumultuous events of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 meant that the concept of a Bat Mitzvah was far from their daily concerns.

Fast forward 50 years to 2023, and Marianne finds herself revisiting her relationship with her faith. A poignant conversation with a lifelong friend ignited a spark, prompting her to reflect deeply on her role as a Jewish woman. Supported by her husband of four decades, Phil, who had championed the idea from its inception, and surrounded by two of their children, Dane and Bianca, Marianne decided to embrace her Bat Mitzvah half a century later.

In preparation for this momentous occasion, Marianne has chosen to take on a special mitzvah – an act of charity focused on supporting Israel. In a heartfelt plea to her community at shule, she invited everyone to partake in this meaningful endeavour. A bowl of coins and many Blue Boxes displayed, symbolic of their collective commitment, awaited congregants on their way out of the service.

As Marianne shared her journey, she emphasized the significance of this act, encouraging each person to contribute a coin to the box while offering a prayer for peace in Israel and the safety of their people. It was a small yet powerful gesture, uniting the community in a shared purpose.

Closing her address, Marianne drew inspiration from ‘Pirkei Avot,’ the ‘Ethics of Our Fathers,’ quoting, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.” With her husband Phil by her side, she expressed gratitude for the blessings in their lives, never taking a single day for granted.

In a bittersweet moment, Marianne wished her parents could have been present to partake in her simcha, believing they would have been immensely proud of her journey. As the community embraced her celebration, Marianne’s Bat Mitzvah became a testament to the enduring nature of faith, the importance of reflection, and the beauty of coming together to share in the happiness of one of their own.

Marianne’s bat mitzvah certificate will proudly grace the wall of her home study soon.

Marianne and her Bat Mitzvah certificate