What My Bat Mitzvah Means to Me: Lana Schwartz (2017)

By October 31, 2017 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, What It Means to Me

I have learned so much while going through the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah. My parents thought that  a Bat Mitzvah was an important rite of passage in becoming a young Jewish woman and they wanted to do it in a meaningful way;  that’s why they chose a humanistic congregation. What they liked about this congregation’s approach was that it really made me think about and focus on my values and what’s important to me as I go into my teenage years, when it’s especially important to know who you are and what you stand for.

Sometimes it was hard to write my papers because of auditions, homework, and I moved to a new apartment! Sometimes, it took the threat of losing my electronics to make me do it,  but in the end, I’m really glad I did it because standing here today, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

I learned a lot about my family that I didn’t know before; their childhoods, their experiences with the arts, their Jewish or non Jewish upbringings, their values and what is  important to them. I never sat and thought about my values, and hearing my family’s values helped me figure out my own, and which values have been passed down to me through the family’s generations.  I collected some wonderful humorous stories that I will carry with me and can pass on to the next generation of our family.

While writing my role model paper, I learned how much I look up to Anne Frank and her ability to stay optimistic.

Through this process, my parents also planned a Bat Mitzvah trip for me to Europe, where we visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, and the very first Jewish ghetto, which was in Venice. Seeing Anne’s annex was such an amazing experience for me. It’s one thing to read about her, but to see it in person, to actually stand in her bedroom, was a whole different thing. You can really understand what her situation was, instead of imagining.  I found out that at the first Jewish ghetto in Venice, the Jews were allowed out during the day, but were locked in at night. I really got a sense of my heritage from going to the Ghetto. This trip really opened my eyes to so much that happened in the past and what is happening now. I know much more about Jewish history than I did before I went on this trip, and I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity to go.

The final project was probably the most interesting work that I did, because I talked to writers and composers that I’ve looked up to for years. I learned so many behind the scenes secrets about their process and will now look at theatre in a whole different way.

In Kidschool, we learned a lot about Tzedaka, what it means to give, and having worked with my friends from school to make money for charities was the beginning of new ideas I have about continuing charity work.

I’ve really been looking forward to my Bat Mitzvah, and I’m so excited to share all of these things that I’ve been preparing for over a year, with everyone. This huge milestone means so much to me.

To me, my Bat Mitzvah means growing up. I’m passing my childhood and heading into my teens, and someone should wish my parents good luck. It means more freedom in my choices, but I know with more freedom comes more responsibility. As I was thinking about who I want to be, what became clear to me was that I don’t want to have to carve out, now, a person for me to step into in the future.  I just want to be who I am and go forward from there. I think that it’s important to be open to all opportunities, and not to have a set plan, because as we all know life takes many twists and turns. So my hope is that I will be able to go with the flow and see who I become, instead of setting a skeleton to step into.

I worked extremely hard in preparation for this day, but I could not have done it without extra help from some people who I would like to thank.

Thank you to my parents, for helping me…pushing me to do all of this work, and for helping me through it even when it felt impossible. Thank you also for putting together this celebration and caring enough to make sure we are all here together today. I also want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be here without you…literally.

Thank you to my mentor, Alice, for your time and flexibility with my crazy schedule. Whether on the phone or in person, you helped keep me on track and explained everything so I could understand it. I also want to thank Isabel, the head of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program for helping edit my papers and giving me encouraging and wonderful notes to make them better. Thank you to Rabbi Peter for helping me think more deeply on the subjects I wanted to work on, and guiding me through this process, again, dealing with my crazy schedule. I’m thankful that you are here today for my service. We came to the congregation right after our big move from California which was shortly before my Grandfather passed away. All of you made us feel welcome. And where else can I express my love of theatre as part of my Bat Mitzvah? 

I also want to thank Aram for playing beautiful music today, and to Aaron, Carolyn and Danny for helping me make this an even more musical celebration.

Finally, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being here today to help me celebrate.

Lana Schwartz