In the months preceding her 12th birthday, Katie Kahn expressed to her mother her identity with Judaism and asked to proceed wi
But that’s not what happened. Katie explained to the AJT how her bat mitzvah was impeded and shared details of her back-to-back simchas and accomplishments for 2021.
Since 12 isn’t the ideal age to make your own decisions in the secular world, Kahn’s mother Virginia Spach Kahn asked her daughter to rethink the decision Mom believed should be accompanied by a full commitment.
Katie recalled, “She wanted me to fully grasp and understand the true meaning behind a bat mitzvah instead of being influenced by a huge party.”
Spach Kahn, who is not Jewish, asked her daughter to gauge her inner spirituality rather than be blinded by a prestigious party. Katie considered her mother’s assertion and continued with her life until she was emotionally and mentally ready for her mitzvah. Throughout the years, Kahn’s trajectory has not deviated from learning Hebrew, familiarizing herself with mitzvot and hearing the Torah while attending Shabbat services at Temple Kehillat Chaim with her father Steven Kahn.
Katie said she also gravitated toward Judaism and Hebrew by attending religious school. “I found Hebrew to be calming and beautiful. I also like the nature aspect of it, like the agrarian calendar the way the entire year and holidays revolved around harvesting. It’s truly beautiful.”
Flash-forward six years. Katie graduated Chattahoochee High School May 20 and nine days later, on her 18th birthday May 29, she became a bat mitzvah. “It is meant to be,” she said.
Prior to the big day, Katie felt a slight sense of apprehension. “It was nerve-racking right before.” Katie explained that she did three Torah honors, aliyot: the first with her father; the second with two of her Hebrew school friends; and the third by herself. “While reading the Torah, my dad was on the right of me and Rabbi [Jason] Holtz was to the left, just to make sure that things went well and verses were read correctly.” This is a moment everyone here at Kehillat Chaim and my father have been waiting for.”
Katie studied about six months, read 10 verses and one Haftorah on the bimah in front of many friends and family who joined virtually or face-to-face. She was blessed with sentimental Jewish gifts that will forever mark the milestone, including a mezuzah, Kiddush cup and candleholders for Shabbat.
Katie also participated in a baccalaureate ceremony at Kehillat Chaim May 8. It was a double blessing for Katie graduating the same month from high school and Hebrew school, where she also served as a teaching assistant.
But finding her Jewish roots and celebrating her bat mitzvah was not the only challenging path Katie took to adulthood. After years of work, she also achieved the highest honor of Girl Scouts, receiving the Gold Award March 7.
Along the way to the coveted award, Katie achieved other awards, including an Anne J. DeFranks Scouting and Service Scholarship, a fund for Girl Scouts who are dedicated to community service in memory of the Johns Creek prominent community member.
On May 1, Katie was part of a bridging ceremony at Sims Lake Park in Suwanee where she was presented the community leadership award along with service to girl scouting awards. “Not everyone is entitled for this scholarship,” she said. “As a member, you have many responsibilities, like running the service unit, annual events, bridging ceremonies, and the like.”
Katie is also interning at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s Four Winds Day Camp, where she strategizes marketing campaigns. “They are so nice. I’ve been going to this camp for years and it’s nice to be on the other side of that and work for them.”
Katie never ceases to be inspired by nature, introducing a new topic for the Gold Award – composting. She explained the dedicated 80-hour service project that led to her receiving the award. “My team was composed of previous mentors, teachers and school friends that I thought would be the right fit.” Her project reflected one of the world’s problems: reducing greenhouse gas emissions through composting.
The new graduate will attend the University of Georgia in the fall, where she will take her love for nature one step further, majoring in environmental engineering.
- Stephanie Nissani
- Bat Mitzvah
- Katie Kahn
- Sara Kahn
- Virginia Spach Kahn
- Steven Kahn
- Temple Kehillat Chaim
- Chattahoochee High School
- John's Creek
- Rabbi Jason Holtz
- Girl Scouts
- Girl Scout Gold Award
- Anne J. DeFranks Scouting and Service Scholarship
- Sims Lake Park
- Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s Four Winds Day Camp
- University of Georgia
- environmental engineering.
- High School Graduation
- STYLE Magazine