Friday, January 9, 2009

TBE Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Lily Schacht on Parashat Mikketz

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah- oh, and Happy Rosh Chodesh too!

Some people have said it is hard to be a Jew in December, but I think I’ve come up with a solution. All we have to do is keep piling on new Jewish Holidays and no one will notice that other holiday that occurs this time of year. Look at today’s service - we have three distinct holidays that we are celebrating, and that is before we even consider that it’s my Bat Mitzvah.

AND, it’s my birthday too. I think I learned in math class that Hanukah plus birthday definitely adds up to one great winter holiday. I can tell you I’ve always gotten really good presents and here we are, the 27th of the month and all my non-Jewish friends started returning their presents but I’m still getting them. Though, for me, it’s not really just about the presents. I’ve always loved Hanukah and this time of year and most of my friends feel the same way. Here are my top eight reasons I love Hanukah, one for each day.

- Number Eight. I love latkes; especially my mother’s served on our cool latke plate.

- Seven. I have a big Winnie the Pooh dreidel.

- Six. I love Hanukah songs including a song that is based on my haftarah which we always sing at camp- Not by Might.

- Five. I like math. Well, it so happens that the numerical value of the Hebrew word for candle, ner, is 250. If you multiply that by the number of days in Hanukah you get 2,000. Hanukah always begins on the 25th day of Kislev. If you add 25 to 2,000 you get the exact number of words that are in my portion.

- Four. We always invite people over to our house, including some non-Jewish friends, to participate in lighting the candles.

- Three. We read the Joseph story on Hanukah. In my Portion Joseph faces the same challenges that we do, being a minority culture. He becomes Egyptian in many ways and takes an Egyptian name, but recognizes his brothers right away, even though they do not recognize him. It is sort of like how my camp friends recognize each other even though we haven’t seen each other for a year.

- Two. Believe it or not, Hanukah wasn’t originally a holiday for giving presents. What people don’t know is that presents didn’t come in to the picture because of Christmas, but because Hanukah coincides with the birthdays of some very important people, including Jordin Sparks, Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Buffet, and of course, ME!

- And, the number one reason I love Hanukah is that I get to spend a lot of time with my family, including my sister, Elena, and relatives that I don’t see a lot.

So you can see why this is such a special time for me. To top it all off I become a Bat Mitzvah today.

One aspect of becoming a Bat Mitzvah is that, like the Macabees and Joseph who came before me, I am responsible to make the world a better place. For my Mitzvah project, I have been volunteering at KinderPlace and will be donating toiletries to AmeriCares to help kids in Guatemala, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia.

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