I can’t believe this journey started in December 2017! Air pods weren’t a thing! My parents have always wanted me to find my own way. At first, I was leaning toward not having a bat mitzvah because it would have been too overwhelming and just not fun for everyone. My parents explained that a big dance party wasn’t required, that it was about reaching a milestone in the eyes of my culture, and celebrating with close friends and family. Looking back, I’m so glad I made the decision to become a bat mitzvah.
I remember clear as day, a year and a half ago, the first thing I asked my mentor was, “does the Hero/Role Model have to be a living person?” I’m glad he said no, because I had already decided to honor my Aunt Diane.
My first family interview was with my Great Aunt Ronnee. It was so much more interesting and easy going than I thought it would be. I thought the story she shared with me about her mom getting justice for her when the neighbor boys stole her bracelet (representing her love for Judaism) was so inspiring. It was the perfect way to begin my preparation.
And so it went. More family interviews, regular meetings with my mentor Ray, learning so much about my family, myself, and what is truly important to me. I now don’t just think of myself as the Jewish girl. I think of myself as being the next generation of my family’s Jewish history. I know that I don’t have to read from the Torah or learn 613 commandments to be confident that I’m a virtuous person that my ancestors would be proud of. My values, and those of my family are clearer to me, and I will work to ensure they continue to light my path.
I want to thank my mentor Ray for so often coming over and helping me write, interview, and learn. Isabel and Rabbi Tzemah were there every step of the way – thank you. Thank you to Isabel, City Congregation’s bat mitzvah coordinator, for her tireless edits to the countless speeches. And to our musician Rebecca who is still my all-time favorite leader at our congregation’s Kehilla Circles.
And to all of you – Thanks to my friends for always being there for me, and for making me a better person every day. I want to thank my family for being so big, I could only fit six friends here today. Morgan, thank you for giving me a total of one minute of silence each day so I could finish all these essays. Finally, thank you Mom and Dad, for supporting me through the whole process, for the ideas, emails, and money that you have spent today, and every other day.
Having all of you here with me today means more to me than you know. Toda Raba!