We celebrated my daughter Hannah’s Bat Mitzvah this past week and I wanted to share a couple of thoughts with you about the day:
At first I wasn’t going to do anything to mark this occasion, and perhaps she would have preferred it that way, but that would have been a mistake. What we all celebrated and experienced last Sunday was beyond my wildest dreams. Watching her up there, singing songs about the many amazing women who came before us all, and reciting her speech of how she will carry forward her Jewish faith and values, made me so proud and more emotional than even I expected.
It also reminded me that there are many different ways to celebrate this momentous occasion: we chose to have a small lunch with our closest relatives around us. It may have been unorthodox, but that was right for her. It may not be right for everyone, but we live in modern times where we CAN choose how we want to celebrate the big and not-so-big milestones, and I very much appreciated that our Rabbi (and his incredible wife) worked with us to figure out the approach that was right for her. Not for me. Not for them. But for her.
I also wanted to share with you something we had read during her ceremony I felt was perfect as she embarks on the next chapter in her Jewish journey. (I take no credit for writing this, I had borrowed it from someone else):
We wish for you to be a person of character
Strong, but not tough
Gentle, but not weak.
We wish for you to be righteous,
but not self-righteous
Honest, but not unforgiving.
Wherever you journey,
May your steps be firm and may you walk in just paths and not be afraid.
Whenever you speak, May your words be words of wisdom and friendship.
May your hands build and your heart preserve what is good and beautiful in the world.
May the voices of the generations of our people move through you
And may the God of our ancestors be your God as well.
May you know that there is a people, a rich heritage, to which you belong.
And from that sacred place, you are connected to all who dwell on earth.
May the stories of our people be upon your heart,
And may the grace of the Torah rhythm dance in your soul.
As my very wise neighbor Vivian told me recently, the biggest gift and blessing she’s been given is having been born a Jew. She takes that responsibility and the “values and morality that come along with it” very seriously.
I hope my daughter Hannah understands the responsibility she carries with her as a Jewish woman now that she’s been Bat Mitzvah’d.