June 30, 2013
When my parents first told me that I was going to have a Bar Mitzvah, I was very nervous. I had no idea of what was expected and I was overwhelmed. Slowly, I began to go through the steps required from finalizing my research papers to volunteering for community service work. It feels like just yesterday that I was interviewing my family for the family history project. To me, my bar mitzvah does not only symbolize me turning 13, but it will also mark the end of the hard work and effort that I put into this experience, that I will remember forever.
Because of the experiences that I have had throughout this process, I have changed in many ways. Now, if people ask me what my personal values and beliefs are, I can answer them much more clearly and vividly. If people ask where my family comes from, I can tell them stories that I learned from interviewing my relatives. Another way in which I have changed is that I have become better at taking criticism, even if I may not want to do the extra work or change something that I thought was already fine.
This experience has also taught me more about what it means to be a Jew, and specifically what it means to be a member of The City Congregation. Before I joined the congregation, I did not know a lot about Judaism, besides some of the holidays and what we did to celebrate them. In fact, when my 5th grade class took a trip to Brotherhood Synagogue, I held up the Siddur and said to my mom “Is this the Jewish book?” Yep, it was that bad. Now, I know much more about Jewish culture from what the difference is between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews is and how the situation in Israel is an issue with no easy or simple solution to peace. As I began to mention before, this procedure has taught me more about what it means to be a Humanistic Jew, which is that we are responsible to take care of other people, no matter who they are, what they look like, etc. As well as that we are responsible to shape our own lives and make our own decisions.
At the beginning of all of this, it felt like I was being forced into the process and that it was just for my parents. Yet after experiencing what I have gone through and doing the things that I have done, I have learned to appreciate the journey and have really enjoyed it more than I originally thought.
To end this I would like to thank a few people who were essential to me throughout this whole Bar Mitzvah process:
o Michael Witkin for helping me get settled into this stressful process and then later, sending me an amazing book that helped me greatly on my major project
o Aram for helping with the great music to go along with the service.
o Joelle Silverman for the time and effort that she put in to make my Bar Mitzvah so special and personal.
o Isabel Kaplan and Rabbi Peter for reading over my papers, giving me feedback, and helping me prepare for this big event.
o My Mom, who single handedly organized all of the festivities, and for helping to find just the right place to celebrate this special day and for going over all of my papers many, many times throughout this process.
o My Dad, for helping me with all of the final finishes and for being very supportive of my decisions and choices.
And finally my family and friends that were able to be here with me and share in this special day. I’m so glad that you could come.