Alexander Kol Harris
March 5, 2016
I am very proud of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. I had to work hard. I ultimately learned a lot about myself, my family, and the Jewish community as a whole, and I think that was what my parents wanted. They wanted the experience and the work I did to help me grow and accept that suggestions and critiques of my projects and writing are meant to help me to be as good as I can be and are not intended to make me feel that I did not do a good enough job. They also wanted me to think about my role in the Jewish community and the other communities I am a part of. I think I have.
I learned about myself and my family’s history. I gained a deeper appreciation of what my ancestors had to do to make it to the United States and to give me and my immediate family the things I enjoy today. I learned many other interesting things that relate to my life, like my dad’s uncle having been a pilot in World War II, and my dad’s father having been a member of the Newtown High chess club!
I learned more about one of my role models and his life and accomplishments, and the qualities I value in people. I now know how important and fulfilling community service can be. I discovered the long-standing connection between Jews and chess, and how important and intertwined chess and Jews are with each other. I am proud of the knowledge I was able to gain.
I would like to thank my parents for supporting me and making me work even if I didn’t want to. I would also like to thank my mentor, Alice Kaplan, for keeping me on track and letting me know about requirements I may not have been aware of. Thank you to Rabbi Peter for providing useful feedback on my work and helping me develop my major project. I appreciate your interest in my chess topic, your research, and your detailed suggestions. Thank you, Isabel Kaplan, for directing the enriching Bar Mitzvah program which I am proud to be a part of. And thanks to Aram Rubenstein-Gillis for providing the service with song.
Finally, I would like to thank friends and family for coming out to celebrate this important moment with me and my parents. It is good to get together for a happy occasion.