September 22, 2013
To me, my Bat Mitzvah means a coming of age, reaching a new point in my life. It doesn’t mean finding myself and what I am going to believe in because you can’t know that at 13. My Bat Mitzvah was about learning. Learning about the past and learning for my future.
I thought this would require a lot of hard work. It was a lot more work than I had imagined. But it was also more interesting than I thought it would be. I learned a lot about my family and my heritage.
As I read through my papers now, I see a common thread. All the papers have something to do with comfort and being who you are. My values paper includes values that comfort my family and keep us together. My community service paper is all about giving comfort after the hurricane tragedy, and my role model paper is about someone who is comfortable being herself and how comedy can be comforting. I didn’t know that they all shared the same ongoing theme while I was writing them over the past year and a half, but now that I look back, I see it. These ideas are portrayed in all of my essays and turned out to be the focus of my major project for this Bat Mitzvah. I think it’s cool to see how much I have to say and to see the common themes in the thoughts that I’ve had since I was a little girl.
After 9/11 my mom realized that she felt strongly that she wanted her children to have more of a sense of their cultural and spiritual community. My dad believes in God and my mom is not as sure about that. When my mom’s friend told her about the Bat and Bar Mitzvah program at TCC, she thought it would be a perfect way for us to connect with our cultural and religious history.
I think it’s fitting that my mom wanted to get a sense of comfort after the tragedy of 9/11, that a tragedy brought us to this congregation which then brought me to the podium right now. The same cycle of events as in my paper, tragedy, then comfort then new hopes.
I have thought about why it is important to remember. If you don’t remember where you came from, how can you know where you are going? If you don’t remember where you came from, you will have a difficult time getting to know who you are. I had the chance to find out more about my family’s past. And I have seen how much events in the past effect what goes on today. My Bat Mitzvah was not a religious adventure, it was an adventure of finding how I became me and this will help to me be more sure about who I am as I get older because the adventure isn’t over.
Thank you Aaron, my mentor, for giving up your time to help me put all the papers together and help me reach my deadlines, kind of. Even though you can’t be here today, I still want to thank you for everything you’ve done and say I wish you were here, or I wish I were with you, because I’ve never been to Hawaii. I also want to thank my parents for putting up with me for the past 13 years and for helping me write all these papers and for planning all of this. Thank you Rabbi Peter and Isabel for supporting me through this process and helping me edit my papers, and thanks to Aram and Rick for playing the music today. My Bat Mitzvah has been a long process and a lot of work and I thank you all for coming today to celebrate with me. I am very, very relieved that it is over but I think it was worth it.