September 29, 2013
As I come to the end of my Bar Mitzvah service, I would like to tell all of you what this means to me. What it means to me is a coming of age in which I take on the responsibilities of a teenager or young adult, on my way to becoming a man. As I gain the responsibilities, I also have to earn trust from my family. I will have to show them that I am trustworthy by taking new tasks head on, and attempting to fulfill them as much as possible.
I went through this process also to follow in my family tradition, like my great-grandparents and all of my ancestors did before me. As I conclude my work for my Bar Mitzvah, I feel like I am not doing as much work as I should. For example, I have time where I can do anything, and I feel like I should be using that time to work on my Bar Mitzvah project, but there is no work left to do!!! What I’ve realized is that my Bar Mitzvah required so much hard work that I had gotten used to doing that work and now that there is none left, I still feel I should be pushing myself. This may be a good thing because I have gotten used to pushing myself to do the best work that I can, which will help me with school and later in life—in my adult jobs.
What I’ve learned about myself through this Bar Mitzvah process is that I focus my beliefs on proven events, and I tend not to bring the idea of unproven events or disproven events into my explanations or thoughts on how things work. I do not believe or have faith in a higher being that controls all. I believe that we can direct our own paths and shape our fates with opportunities and hard work. I also believe in coincidence and chance as things that shape our lives. Judaism, for me, is a way of connecting myself to other people, like all of you here at my Bar Mitzvah.
I am not the only person responsible for my Bar Mitzvah work. First I would like to thank my parents. My mother, for helping me write the essays for this service, and pushing me to do the best I could. And my father, for making me pursue a Bar Mitzvah, and also making my centerpieces, and critiquing my writing. I would like to thank Jen Orkin-Lewis, my mentor in this long process, for guiding me through the path to becoming a Bar Mitzvah.
Next, I would like to thank Rabbi Peter Schweitzer for conducting this ceremony and really making my Bar Mitzvah a reality. He is very smart, and intellectual, and I admire his views on the Hebrew Bible very much. I would like to thank Isabel Kaplan, who is the director of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program. She helped me to make my writing the best it could be, along with all the other B’nai Mitzvot in our congregation.
Next, I would like to thank the musicians here today, Anne, Mika, Matt, and my parents. I would like to thank Anne for singing all of the lovely tunes in this service, and Mika for accompanying her. I thank Matt for two reasons: for teaching my father how to be a fantastic singer, and for coming to sing a meaningful song to me here today. And I would like to thank my parents, once again, for singing a song to me about protecting me, and shielding me from harm.
Now I would like to thank all of you for coming here today, cheering me on throughout my life, and being my family and friends. Last, but not least, I would like to thank Rabbi Aliza Erber for teaching me my Torah portion, and Dania Greenberg, for teaching me all the Hebrew I will ever need to know in order to read traditional texts.