Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Amber Kitay on Beha'alotcha

Shabbat Shalom!
In this week’s parsha, בהעלתך- B’nai Yisrael complained about the lack of food in the desert. They remembered fondly the fish and vegetables that they had back in Egypt. They were so afraid of not surviving that they were willing to go back to Egypt and be slaves again.

It’s natural to want to turn back when you are afraid, but it is important to be able to move on. The only way to move on is by learning how to overcome fear.

For me, fear comes in the form of a big science test or getting a shot. But if you ask a kid from Sderot what fear means, they’ll talk about not making it to school or a parent not making it home. Fear can be captured in the 15 seconds between the sound of the siren and the crash of the rocket.

For my mitzvah project I helped to organize a walk raising money to send children in Sderot to summer camps, far the fear of rockets. We raised about $5,000 – and we are still collecting, if you would like to donate.

A fear that I’ve had to overcome was in gymnastics. For those who don’t know me that well, I love gymnastics and have been competing since I was 8. Right now I’m ranked first on bars for my level and age group in the state. Even now, I still have to overcome fears when I do new skills and sometimes even old ones. So I had to overcome the fear of doing my first flyaway on bars (that’s when you let go and flip in the air), and I’m still afraid of it today – but I always get it right. On the balance beam, I used to find a back walkover scary when I’m on high beam, which is four feet high and four inches wide. But now that I’ve got the hang of it, I hardly ever fall. On floor exercises, there’s the round-off back-handspring back-tuck. I used to be scared of it, but now I can do it anywhere. In fact, my mom suggested that I do it as my entrance at the party. The rabbi even said it would be Ok to do it right here. But I said, “It’s OK.”

Believe it or not, the best training I’ve had at overcoming fear has been at a place my family visits a lot: Disney. When I was little I used to be afraid of all the roller coasters, but after I went on Rock and Roll roller coaster, followed by Tower of Terror and Mount Everest, now I can go on every ride in the park and not be scared.

Despite all the experiences I’ve had with fear, I can’t imagine how they must feel in Sderot. But that’s what makes me all the more determined to help kids there live a normal life. No child deserves to live in fear – anywhere. As a bat mitzvah, I will do my best to help make this kind of world possible.

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