Over the past two years, I have come to understand not only what being a Bat Mitzvah means to me, but what being a Bat Mitzvah from a humanistic congregation means. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah is being accepted into the Jewish community, and being able to take on more responsibility. This process has taught me more about Jewish history and about my own family history. I learned things about my family that I would never have expected, never even thought to ask. I can now connect the two sides of my family, English and American, by the values that intertwine us, the beliefs that we share, and have been passed on for generations.
Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means that I will take on new roles in the Jewish community, and outside of the Jewish community. As I get older and more responsible, I will have more work to take on, whether it is for high school, or outside of school. And becoming a Bat Mitzvah symbolizes the transition from childhood, to being ready for that extra work, preparing for the challenge.
The first time I realized I wanted a Bat Mitzvah was after going to my cousin Max’s Bar Mitzvah. I believe the reason I wanted one was because it looked cool. While I still think that is true, I have developed a deeper understanding of why I wanted a Bat Mitzvah so badly. My family was never extremely religious, so I wanted some way to connect to being Jewish. Through this Bat Mitzvah process I have discovered my values, and have realized how they are connected to Judaism. I have also learned so much about what it means to be a Humanistic Jew; even after I am done with this process my family will continue to go to the City Congregation services.
My parents never pressured me to have a Bat Mitzvah. I had loved the coming of age aspect, and wanted to become a part of the Jewish community. While I am relieved that I finished the necessary work, I did enjoy learning about my family, and my background in preparing for this Bat Mitzvah.
I have so many people to thank for helping me complete this process. First off, I would like to thank my parents, who have been here to support me the entire time. They have read and reread each paper I wrote, helping me to improve and make it better. The work that they do is inspirational, and along with Malala, they are incredible role models. This wouldn’t have been possible without them!
I would like to thank my sister, who was always there to make me laugh. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles have also been an immense help in this process. Thank you for answering all the questions I have asked you, with interest, and allowing me to interview you about our family’s history and values. Some of them have come from as far as London, so I would like to thank them for taking the time, money, and effort to come all the way here to attend my Bat Mitzvah.
I would like to thank my friends, who have made me look forward to waking up early in the mornings to get to school. Thank you, Isabel Kaplan, you have been such a great help in keeping us organized and on task, as well as reviewing my work and making edits, as well as the nicest comments. I would also like to thank Rabbi Peter and Rabbi Tzemah, who have both supported me throughout, and have helped develop all of my papers. We can all thank Rebecca, the musician, for providing us with wonderful music!
And last, but most certainly not least, I would like to thank Jess Otterman, my mentor, who has been with me this whole way. Thank you so much Jess, you have inspired me and have helped me with each paper. You have explained and run me through this entire process in detail, making each part easier for me to understand. Thank you for coming all the way to meet me in Coco Bar, I couldn’t have done it without you!