Friday, October 10, 2008

TBE Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Eden Castle on Parashat Netzavim

It was two years ago, in my fifth grade Hebrew School class, when I first heard the rumor. Someone said that they had heard that Shakira, the famous singer, had stated that she would rather sing in front of 100 pigs than 1 Jew.

The class was buzzing about this news, and soon the entire school was talking about it. They even started making posters to protest.

When I first heard this, it just didn’t ring true. I didn’t think that someone so famous would say something like that to put her career in jeopardy.

So, I asked the Rabbi if it was true. After some research, we found out that the rumor wasn’t true. The Rabbi then put the story in his weekly e-mail to the congregation.

I have long understood that it is important to be able to take a stand when the need arises. This incident reminded me of that important lesson. Sometimes, that can mean standing up all by yourself, when everyone else is following the crowd.

Nitzavim, the name of my portion, means “standing”, but it also can mean to take a stand.
In my portion, Moses is saying, “You who are standing here today have accepted this covenant with God.” In saying this, he makes clear that this includes those who weren’t there on that day. Even though our generation wasn’t there, by taking a stand, it’s as if we were.

Here I am, standing here, as a Bat Mitzvah, accepting the Torah for myself and my generation. It’s important for all of us to do this. Those who know me know that I don’t just accept blindly things that I am told to do. For my Bat Mitzvah to be meaningful to myself and the world, I have to take a stand. Today, I have decided to take a stand for the environment.

It may be because I am named Eden, but I have always had an interest in nature. When I was younger, I used to stop kids from stepping on ants and killing bees in the playground. I wish people would realize that bees are becoming endangered, and we couldn’t live without them.

They pollinate fruits and flowers, as well as making honey. Colony Collapse Disorder is causing lots of trouble to bees. Bees are getting sick, going out to pollinate and never coming back. When this happens, the hive collapses. This is a major problem, because nobody knows what’s causing it.

I am concerned about the Earth, from global warming to recycling. You might have noticed my Bat Mitzvah booklet is only a page. I did this to remind everyone of the need to conserve resources.

This week is Rosh Hashana, the birthday of the world. This reminds us to keep the world clean and beautiful. My mitzvah project was volunteering with Keep Stamford Beautiful, an organization that plants flowers and trees, cleans up beaches, and paints public parks. I have been keeping a flower bed near the entrance to Scalzi Park, helped plant flowers at Cove Island, and paint bleachers at Scalzi.

As I become a Bat Mitzvah today, I am taking a stand for the little things like Shakira’s reputation and the big things like the future of our planet.

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