In Philadelphia, 83 Year Old Bat Mitzvah Achieves Lifelong Goal

February 2, 2023

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Seventy years after turning 13, Philadelphia resident Reva Rosard achieved her long-held desire to step up to the Torah in front of family and friends and become a bat mitzvah. For Rosard, celebrating the time-honored Jewish milestone wasn’t a moment too late.

Rosard said she always wanted to have a bat mitzvah, but when she was 13, only boys took part in the religious ceremony. After hearing a Jewish legend that suggests people begin their second lives at age 70, Rosard decided that she would check bat mitzvah off her bucket list before turning 84 last month.

When she mentioned her desire to Cantor Naomi Hirsch, who previously served as the Jewish chaplain for the community, Rosard began lessons with Hirsch to learn the Hebrew passages that she would chant at her bat mitzvah.

The staff of Fountain View at Logan Square, an independent living community and Rosard’s home, helped turn her dream into a reality. “They prepared a wonderful luncheon with more food than I even asked for,” Rosard said of the culinary team. “It was an upscale beautiful spread. I was so pleased with how they handled everything. They couldn’t have done more for me.”

Anna Kurtz, life enrichment director at Fountain View at Logan Square, said her team loves to celebrate the accomplishments of all residents. “It is so special for Reva to continue hitting huge milestones into her 80s,” she said. “Celebrating her bat mitzvah truly exemplifies that age is just a number.”

Rosard, a lifelong Philadelphia area resident, bubbled over with joy as she talked about how much she has achieved in her lifetime, and smiled as she thought about her father. “My father was very involved in the synagogue, and he would have loved this,” she said.

A Musical Life—And What Comes Next

In addition to going to Hebrew school as a child, Rosard began studying the violin at age 10. Her entire professional career was dedicated to teaching music, and she played violin often as a member of several orchestras in Philadelphia. She has always been musically inclined, and loves going to concerts and shows with her friends at Fountain View.

“It is a wonderful thing when an older person decides to become bar or bat mitzvah because they didn’t have that opportunity when they were young,” Hirsch said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Reva. She is a very unique person. We bonded and discovered we have many things in common, including being musicians and our love of learning.”

With regard to music, Rosard wowed the crowd at her bat mitzvah, performing a duet with her grandson. They played klezmer music—she on her violin and her grandson on the accordion.

“Reva—and so many others—have accomplished wonderful achievements in retirement that are celebrated by the entire community,” Kurtz added. “We can’t wait to see what she does next!”

Kurtz won’t have to wait too long. The Fountain View Players, an acting group Rosard joined when she moved to the community seven years ago with her late husband, Dan, will be producing a resident-written show about the United States in early spring.

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