What My Bar Mitzvah Means to Me: Jakob Shonbrun Siege (2017)

By January 31, 2017December 21st, 2018Bnei Mitzvah, What It Means to Me

Jakob Shonbrun Siege

So this is the end of my service and it feels great!! It took a massive amount of time, work, and now we’re done! It is so nice to be able to stand here today in front of you all and say those words after so much doubting if I ever would.

What does my bar mitzvah mean to me? Well, I’ve always known that I wanted to have a bar mitzvah. I knew it when I was going to KidSchool, I really knew it when I was tasting food for Carly’s bat mitzvah, and I even knew it when I procrastinated a bit too much and no one thought I still wanted one. I’m so happy and relieved that I did it. I really, really, didn’t want to end up not having one and regretting it when I’m older.

For me, this bar mitzvah means I have a place in Judaism. I’ve always felt somewhat less of a Jew compared to others. We do things very differently here at the City Congregation and sometimes that has made me feel like this doesn’t really count or I don’t really understand Judaism. But now, I’m so glad I did this process rather than the typical one. I have so much more freedom and it gives me a chance to learn what Judaism means to me.

This bar mitzvah is not being forced on me and it lets me form my own opinions. I feel like I’m a part of the community now since I learned the place Judaism has in my life independently, like an adult. I love how this bar mitzvah introduces me to adulthood in Judaism where I really reflect on my values, think about my beliefs, and most importantly, act on them. I know who I am now in this amazing community and no one can tell me otherwise.

I know my bar mitzvah is supposed to be the turning point to maturity and independence and it did show me what it’s like to grow up and have real work. But guess what, I’m bad at it. It has taught me how to handle work in the future like the adult I’m becoming.

A lot of people helped me in this process to be able to speak to you today and now I want to thank them for while this did teach me about independence, I could not have done it without them. First I want to thank Rabbi Peter and Isabel Kaplan for sticking with me with amazing advice and making this b’nai mitzvah possible. The program they put together gave Mia and me a wonderful, unique experience.  I want to thank Mika Nishimura for providing the amazing music today and throughout the many years we’ve known her. She’s been with us since before Carly had her bat mitzvah, so it’s only fitting that she is here for us after all these years alongside my spectacular sister and mother. Of course I have to thank my family, and more specifically, my amazing parents who somehow kept with me and kept me going. It was definitely not easy, but their value of seeing things through outshone the anxiety and pressure.

Thank you to Dan, my mentor, for always giving me advice and guidance. Your ideas and easy-going style made me want to keep going, and more importantly, made me believe I could. I cannot thank you enough for giving me your time to talk or just get tacos at a restaurant made out of a van. I, of course, have to thank all of you for coming here from far and wide to join us on this special day.

And lastly, but certainly not least, I must thank Mia, for going through this along side me and for being someone I could always talk to about this whole process, since you were doing it too! Thank you all so much.