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Neire Mercer and Sara Raymond


by Rhonda Spivak, October 24, 2011

Neire Mercer and Sara Raymond, a lesbian couple who are involved in Anakhnu, Winnipeg's Jewish GLBT group ,are looking forward to their upcoming joint Bat-Mitzvah celebration which will be officiated by Rabbi Karen Soria at Temple Shalom Synagogue in November. The couple expects about 60-70 people to attend the celebration on November 19.

Sara was born Jewish, and Neire converted to Judaism as an adult, and the couple has been together for some eight and a half years. Neither of the women have ever had a Bat Mitzvah before.
When asked how they thought of the idea of having joint B'not Mitzvah, Sara answered "It was Neire's idea. She always wanted a Bat Mitzvah, and she knew that I never had one. She suggested to me that  we  have them together. A friend also suggested to me that Neire and I have joint B'not Mitzvah."
"Sara thought about it and agreed," adds Neire.
Over the last year, Rabbi Karen Soria has been giving both women Bat Mitzvah lessons and teaching the chanting. Ruth Livingston (a member and past president of Temple Shalom) has also been helping them with the chant of their portions.
Neire says that for her the importance of the Bat Mitzvah celebration is "A feeling of connection with the words of the service; both in English and in Hebrew. The emotions conveyed through the music."
For Sara, what is important is "to be called to the Torah alongside my partner, and being able to chant verses from the Torah."
The aspect of the Bat-Mitzvah that speaks to Neire the most is that it is "A statement of commitment to being a Jewish adult," and she is enjoying "learning the biblical Hebrew."
Sara is appreciative of the fact that as an adult she is able to have a Bat-mitzvah. "It's quite amazing to have a Bat Mitzvah at the same time as your partner. The Jewish spirituality of the Bat Mitzvah is amazing."
Sara learned Hebrew from Ruth Livingston and Neire also learned from her in addition to learning the language on line.
Sara was the first of the two women to become involved in Anakhnu, which is a funded program of th eRady JCC initiated by Tamar Barr.  As she says, "I heard of a Jewish GLBT group starting in Winnipeg and immediately became part of the group as well as the organizing committee. I suggested to Neire that she join as well and she agreed."
The couple anticipates that about 5-7 Anakhnu members will be present for their day of celebration.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.