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A Bat Mitzva in The Big House at Eastern State

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by KYW’s John McDevitt

A Bat Mitzva behind bars. Eastern State Penitentiary historic site in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia celebrates its first this weekend.

Some people may find it an odd place for a Bat Mitzva, but it couldnt be more perfect for 53-year-old Cindy Wanerman of Lower Gwynd, Pa., the president of the board of directors at Eastern State Penitentiary.

She lead a labor of love in the reconstruction of the prison’s synagogue which began in 2004 and was open to the public in the spring of last year. She’s excited about her big day which she was unable to celebrate when a teenager:

cindy A Bat Mitzva in The Big House at Eastern State“When somebody celebrates a Bat or Bar Mitzva, they typically do a project which is typically a community service project which is part of the whole experience and with me I just kind of did it in reverse.  I started the project in ’04 and know that the project is complete, now I’m doing the Bat Mitzva.”

There was one Bar Mitzva at the prison two years ago for the great grandson of   Albert Fliecher. Fliesher a prison reformer in the 1920s and help find the original synagogue when the Eastern State was an active prison.

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