Mitzvah Mensches: Emma and Fabi V. from Anshe Emet Synagogue - The Selfhelp Home

Mitzvah Mensches: Emma and Fabi V. from Anshe Emet Synagogue

Meet Selfhelp’s Mitzvah Mensches: Emma and Fabi V.
B’not Mitzvah Date: May 8, 2021
Meet this talented pair of musical Mitzvah Mensch sisters, Emma and Fabi! The girls are 1.5 years apart in age, so they chose to have a B’not mitzvah together. Their mitzvah project filled The Selfhelp Home with beautiful music and smiles!
The girls are members of Anshe Emet Synagogue and attend Bernard Zell Day School. Their Torah portion is Parashat Behar-Bechukotai. Fabi explained: “This Torah portion discusses all of the blessings you receive if you follow the laws of the Torah, as well as all of the curses you get if you don’t follow them.”
When asked what the girls like about being students at Bernard Zell, they each shared their thoughts. Fabi said, “I really like my friends there and love all of my teachers!” Emma said, “I love the best friends that I have made, they are hilarious! I really like my teachers too. And my favorite class is Identity Race and Segregation, it’s an important class.”
Rabbi Siegel and Rabbi Russo both had wonderful remarks to share about the pair:
Rabbi Siegel: “At Anshe Emet, one of the pillars of our B’nai Mitzvah program is making a difference in the larger community through acts of loving kindness or Gemilut Hasadim. We are very proud of Emma and Fabi V. for creating an outstanding concert for the residents of The Selfhelp Home and their families.”
Rabbi Russo: “Emma and Fabi worked diligently to create this musical experience. Emma and Fabi remind us that becoming B’nei Mitzvah means being responsible for others. For our people, it is as important to learn how to lead as a volunteer and care for others in our community as it is to lead our community in Tefillah (prayer) and Torah reading.”
Outside of school, both girls practice playing the guitar and take singing lessons. They have been playing guitar since Emma was 7 years old and Fabi was 6 years old. The sisters enjoy playing a variety of genres. Fabi proudly shared that she convinced her mom to buy her an electric guitar because she loves rock music, playing fun melodies, and wants to “just go crazy”.
Their friend Makayla (who is also a Mitzvah Mensch) inspired them to do their project with Selfhelp. They were already familiar with the home as Emma remembered sending gifts with her class to our residents through Selfhelp’s intergenerational program. Fabi had visited our home in the past with her school choir. We are grateful that so many Bernard Zell students have visited our community over the years through our intergenerational programming partnership! Selfhelp’s intergenerational programs are designed to benefit both the residents and young people in our community.
“We wanted to help people – especially the elderly – that were having a hard time during quarantine because they couldn’t see their family.”
When it was time to choose a mitzvah project, the girls were excited to share their musical talents! Their guitar teachers, Jason McInnesLisa DeRosia, and Fabi’s voice teacher, Emily Senkowsky, taught the girls the songs they performed for the residents of The Selfhelp Home. Their friend Maya L. also performed in the concert playing the flute. 100 residents attended their virtual performance, the concert was a hit! While they performed live for the residents via Zoom, the concert was recorded for the residents to watch again in the future.
The set list was carefully curated by the girls, each song with a specific purpose. A few of the songs they performed included:
  • Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog: In Judaism, the rainbow is a symbol of hope.
  • Count on Me by Bruno Mars: It is a good message to let the resident know we are here for them.
  • Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson: Everybody needs love, especially now.
  • Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley: Thought it would bring back nice memories for the residents.
  • Esa Einai by Nefesh Mountain: Wanted to bring something different to the home, it’s Jewish bluegrass music.
Performing for The Selfhelp Home was not the first time Emma and Fabi put on a concert! They used to perform often before the pandemic began, for example at another senior living facility called The Admiral. They have even played for the well-known American children’s folk singer and Grammy award winner, Ella Jenkins, for her 94th birthday! They’ve also performed in other venues around Chicago, such as at The Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field. They are looking forward to performing more concerts in person again once the pandemic is over.
What was your favorite part about your mitzvah project?
Emma said: “Knowing that we were able to give the people at The Selfhelp Home a boost, so they know we care about them even if they are lonely.”
Fabi shared: “Quarantine has been a bummer, so it’s nice to have something special for people to look forward to.”
Their b’not mitzvah will take place on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Due to pandemic restrictions, only a small number of people are allowed in the synagogue for the service and everyone else can attend virtually via Zoom. The girls didn’t want a big party, instead they have their sights set on travel destinations! Fabi would like to go to Hawaii and Emma is still deciding where she’d like to go. Talk about celebrating this special occasion in style!
What does it mean to you to become a bat mitzvah? Both girls shared their thoughts:
“It’s important to be recognized as part of the community and to be able to read from the Torah.” – Emma
“For me, it’s always been something I imagined in my head over and over again since I was little. I grew up with the concept of having a bat mitzvah and it means that I will be a woman in the Jewish religion.” – Fabi
Thank you both for sharing your talents with our community! In the future when it’s safer, the girls would love to perform again (in person) for the Selfhelp residents! Stay tuned…
Mitzvah Mensches: Emma and Fabi V. from Anshe Emet Synagogue - The Selfhelp Home
Performance at Gallagher Way during the Wiggleworms concert.
Mitzvah Mensches: Emma and Fabi V. from Anshe Emet Synagogue - The Selfhelp Home
Virtual concert for The Selfhelp Home on March 14, 2021.
Interested in becoming a Mitzvah Mensch at The Selfhelp Home?
Learn more about this volunteer program on our website!

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