Last week, my youngest daughter became a bat mitzvah, a sort of coming-of-age ritual Jewish kids go through when they turn 13. As I have with my other two (see this and this), I'm posting here the blessing I gave her during the ceremony.
This day is not just about learning to read lines of sacred text or writing your thoughts on what the Torah tells us. You’ve worked hard at that for many months. But that’s really the easy part.
What’s tougher – but far more interesting – is figuring out where you fit into the rich tradition that begins with the story in this scroll and continues to the present. You now have complete license to sort out for yourself how you’ll embrace this tradition and what “being Jewish” really means for you. Up until this point, you’ve only had your learner’s permit.
I promise not to be a backseat driver to you in that journey. That's not because I don't have the natural impulse to or because I don’t want to be bothered.
It's because, first, I’m one of many who constantly struggle with what the tradition means and how I should relate to it. So who am I to tell you?
Secondly, in order for it to truly work for you, it has to feel authentic to you; you have to come to it yourself, on your own terms, in your own way.
You’ve already begun this odyssey. Preparing for today, you showed tremendous curiosity and passion for the ideas in this text and for what this ancient coming-of-age ritual means. You've shown up here often enough and on your own initiative to obsorb some of what it's all about. And, thanks to your summer camp, Habonim Dror Moshava, which has become the great love of your life, you’ve begun to see and think pretty deeply about the treasures and questions that come with being Jewish.
I have the pleasure and honor of watching this fascinating process of exploration unfold. Let me know if I can help you along your way.