My Dear Rabbi Paltiel,

You've been a "spiritual and human force" for good in all our lives for a long time.  And I know how hard it is being a pulpit rabbi, especially when it's a "start-up", as the Chabads are.  You and Sara have done an AMAZING job all these years in Port and for C'lal Yisroel.

I feel very "blessed" with Kerry's development as a young lady and now as a ba'alat teshuvah.  (That's why I keep saying Shehecheyanu ...). You and Chabad's influence on getting her onto this wonderful pathway is immeasurable.  I'm not sure who is more grateful --- she or I.

So, bottom line, my contribution was a small token of my appreciation for all the good works you do, and the nachas you've helped bring into our lives.  

Stay well and best wishes

All the best,


Why We Chose Chabad
Janice Parise | Delivered at the Bar Mitzvah of her son Lucas.

Thank you to everyone for coming and sharing this special day with us.  Let me start out by telling a little story about what brought us to this podium today.  As many of you may know, one of Chabad’s slogans is “Judaism with a smile”.  Well, I can assure you, for the first 5 years of our son’s Jewish education elsewhere; it was anything but “Judaism with a smile”.  In our household it was more like arguing and tears on a weekly basis to get him to go.  Well, that in itself isn’t an unusual story, lots of kids don’t like going to Hebrew school. 

So last spring, at the close of the Hebrew school session (by the way just a few months shy of his scheduled Bar Mitzvah date) we sat him down.  We talked about his pending Bar Mitzvah date and discussed our options.  Apparently we all felt the same way; that the temple we were at was not giving him the opportunity to succeed at “liking” being Jewish or “understanding” being Jewish.  The prospect of continuing on there wasn’t good, but the Bar Mitzvah date and the prospective end to his Hebrew school suffering was so near. 

So, basically the options were: Drop the whole thing because it’s not really working out, stick it out at the current temple and just get it done in a few months, or try to find a new temple where he might be set back a little time wise but might have a better experience and more meaning.  He gave it some thought and chose the latter.  He didn’t choose the quick easy way out – he could have been done 6 months ago.  He chose to find a new Jewish community in order to find meaning in the Bar Mitzvah process.  He said he wanted it to be a meaningful event and to have a better understanding of what it means to be Jewish. 

We decided that a Chabad center would be the right fit for us.  We visited three in our local area.  As soon I called Chabad of Port Washington I was connected to Rabbi W.  I immediately began to explain to him our situation and the time constraints.  It was, by the way, early September so we were a little stressed out to get started to say the least. Rabbi W was very calm and relaxed.  I apologized for the timing realizing that the High Holy days were approaching that same week and that it would be very busy at Chabad and not an appropriate time for a visit. Rabbi W was extremely welcoming and urged us to come to Chabad to participate in the High Holy Day services and children’s activities. 

We were apprehensive but we did in fact show up that week for Rosh Hashanah.  When we walked in the door, Sara Paltiel was standing in the front vestibule and welcomed us in as if we had been members for years.  Needless to say a couple of hours later I had to convince the children that we had to leave and had to promise them that we would return in the next few days. 

We wanted our son to succeed and succeed he has done and we’re exceptionally proud of him.  We’re proud of the maturity and commitment that he’s shown to bring us all here today.  And we truly hope that he feels now that he’s succeeded in his first step to getting closer to his Jewish inheritance. 

This has also been a good experience for the entire family.   We’ve felt very welcomed by the entire PW Chabad community.  The past six months at Chabad has brought our entire family closer to our Jewish selves.  We’ve all been more involved and will continue to do so.  And that includes my wonderful, Roman Catholic husband who has officially been declared an “Honorary Jew” by Rabbi Paltiel.

So, to our wonderful son, we thank you for making the right decision and doing such a wonderful job of it.  You absolutely succeeded.  You’re an exceptional person; you’re mature, thoughtful, considerate and sweet.  And, according to Jewish law, apparently now considered a “man”.  We’re very proud of you, you did a great job and we love you very, very much.

And thank you to the Port Washington Chabad community for being so accepting and welcoming to our family and providing a place where we “want” to be Jewish.