Inside Our Home Editor, Chava Yelloz, Interviews Heidi Sheppard-Saidel
As she planned her very own Bat Mitzvah, this mother of two searched online to see how she could make her ‘coming of age’ more meaningful. She tells us she wanted to support a needy girl in Israel so she could also have a Bat Mitzvah. When Heidi Sheppard-Saidel found Lev LaLev, she knew it was the perfect match.
After spending a few years preparing for her Bat Mitzvah and learning how to read Hebrew, Heidi celebrated her special day with four other women at a joint Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat, October 30th. Her Bat Mitzvah invitation read as follows:
Lev LaLev is thrilled that Heidi chose 12 year-old Yam, who will happily celebrate her special day with a fun filled Bat Mitzvah party this month, through the generosity and thoughtfulness of Heidi Sheppard-Saidel.
Wanting to be more connected to her community, Heidi, 50, thought that learning how to read Hebrew and to study about her heritage would be an excellent conduit for a closer bond to her Jewish identity. Really wanting to read Hebrew, she studied the ancient language for more than a year, devoting at least an hour a day to this noble project. Heidi tells us how her Bat Mitzvah changed her life, saying, ”My accomplishments have given me more desire to uphold my Jewish tradition and have enriched my identity.”
Heidi’s husband Eric, and her two children, were all very supportive of her studying for her Bat Mitzvah and proud of her accomplishments. Her son Jacob, 14, is a 9th grade student at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. He celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last June. Ella, Heidi’s daughter, a 7th grader at N. Bethesda Middle School, is 12.
Beginning a new job at the National Institute of Standards and Technology did not deter from Heidi’s motivation to study for her Bat Mitzvah. Her federal government position involves helping small and mid-sized manufacturers to solve problems, increase productivity, improve their economic competitiveness, and enhance their technological capabilities. NIST is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is the nation's first federal physical science research laboratory.
More about Heidi:
Heidi was born and raised in Teaneck, N.J. She studied at Oberlin College in Ohio (Art degree) and received her MBA from the University of Wisconsin.
At age 18, after her graduation from Teaneck H.S., Heidi spent seven weeks in Israel living on a kibbutz and touring the country. The Sheppard-Saidel family plans to visit Israel in the next year. Of course, our girls love to receive guests and would be most happy to meet and greet this wonderful family from Maryland.