Monday, September 28, 2009

A Parent's Bat Mitzvah speech

Don't know why, but I was feeling nostalgic and thought I'd revisit this speech from a happy day in my life. My words for Alice, who used to be Isak.

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome

I chose this poem (from a book, I wish I could find and tell you it’s author)because it sings to me of celebration of who you are. And as our clergy informed me, that’s really why we’re here today. To celebrate who you are now and who you are as a fluid being, ever growing, evolving, learning and renewing. Life is an ongoing process of self acceptance. This doesn’t mean complacency, it doesn’t mean laziness, it doesn’t mean ignorance as bliss. It simply means that you develop a faith in your strength, that you grow a belief in the sincerity of your efforts, that you have a dedication to succeed at those things you set forth to accomplish. I know all of those things are and will be true of you.

Along the way, there will be times of questioning and doubt, but I urge you to know that those are natural and necessary. Just as literature must have conflict for the resolutions to be satisfying, and as the light in nature is made more brilliant by the contrasting shadows, such is life. Such is growth and ongoing happiness. to celebrate your triumphs, acknowledge your struggles, learn from all these experiences and be stronger, wiser, kinder and more accepting along the way. this might be harder than it seems. . . but we are all here to help you on your way.

So, who is this girl we celebrate today?

Isak is a kind, giving, trusting, loyal friend. She’s always been outgoing, making friends easily wherever she is, at school, on vacations, in line at Baskin robbins. When she was in her second year of preschool, she reached out to one of the new kids, and before we knew it, they were fast and furious friends. It turned out they were kindred spirits, and even though the family moved away in 2nd grade, through the wonders of the internet, and the loyalty and strong, strong, connection that exists between them, neither time or distance has altered that friendship. It is so incredible that that friend, Jemma and her Mom and sister, came all the way down from Canada to share in this happy milestone.

Once she has gifted someone with friendship, that bond is lasting. We are here today celebrating with friends from not just preschool, but kindergarten, elementary school and the three middle schools Isak has attended over the last two years. Especially wonderful is that she just started attending her new school in January, and yet, all of her classmates are here today to lend support and to join in the celebration.


Today I am a woman, tomorrow I return to the 7th grade .

And although her name, isak means one who laughs in Hebrew, this girl is a serious learner. She is a dedicated student, a deep thinker and infinitely curious quester. (I made that word up) . She brings her imagination, creativity and intelligence to all her endeavors. I have every confidence in her abilities in whatever she applies herself to, whether that be creative writing, or violin, or gymnastics, or drama, or comic strip drawing, or ice skating, or marine biology. And I know that she will be there for me to correct my grammar. Thanks.

I hope that Isak and Milly and I will continue our intense involvement with Kehillat Israel when this proud moment is through. (after a very appropriate resting, breathing period Isak). When we first moved to the Palisades, I didn’t pick this congregation because it was Reconstructionist, but because I wanted us to have a warm, spiritual community to share with our neighbors. What I found however, aside from being a melting pot of menches, was an openness of thought, an invitation to individually explore one’s spirituality and a commitment to community service. It was also the first sect to allow, no, to invite women to particip[ate in all rituals. The founders’ daughter was the first to be Bat Mitzvah’d in 1922, and I’m so proud to say that Isak is the first girl in our family to be Bat Mitzvah’d. Our own Reconstructionist pioneer.

In closing my darling, I give you my ongoing faith and trust, my admiration for the upstanding girl you are, my love forever, my ear and patience, and my pledge to be there for you always, and treasure all of our shared joy, sorrow, & discoveries. I will commiserate in your struggles and I will revel in all your triumphs .

I love you.

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