Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tbe Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Alyssa Goldberg on Naso

Shabbat shalom.

Today, we're going to talk about people who always go above what's expected and try to achieve something greater.

Theodor Herzl had a famous quote, " If you will it, it is no dream." What he means by this is that you can't just sit around waiting for your dreams to come true, you have to fight for them, and work hard. Once you start going after them, they're no longer a far away dream, but something that can be accomplished.

Here's a funny story about Theodor Herzl: On my trip to Israel, we went to the Independence Hall Museum. We sat in what seemed like a small theater, and a picture popped up on the screen. The worker asked, "Can anyone tell me who this is?" So me, being the overly excited person I am, practically jumped out of my seat with my hand raised. "Abraham Lincoln!" I screamed. Thanks to my rabbi and friends, I've never been able to forget that story.

In my Torah portion, it talks about Nazerites, a perfect example of Jews going beyond what's expected. For example, it's okay for Jews to drink wine.  Despite this, the Nazerites still don't drink any wine, and as a matter of fact, they even refuse to eat grapes.  They go way beyond the minimal requirement.  And because of that, they are able to do remarkable things.  My haftarah tells the story of Samson, who was a Nazerite from birth and because of that he became incredibly strong.

When you think of how tiny the Jewish population is, it's hard to believe how much we e accomplished. So many Nobel prizes, great writers and even Adam Levine! And Israel has gone way beyond what Herzl could've ever dreamed.  Its now a thriving state, with a powerful defense force and all different types of people.

However, this not only applies to the Jewish community or Israel.  Every day, people are striving to achieve something greater, to be better than they already are.

Music has always been the center of my life, I even used to have a YouTube channel called irevolvearoundmusic. I'm always trying to learn more, because I always want to be better at what I'm singing or what I'm playing on the flute or piano. I mean, just last week I had one of the lead roles in my school play. It added a lot of extra stress, but I knew I could do it, because I believe you can never do too much of what you love.

But enough about me.

Lets talk about my mitzvah project. I've chosen to raise money for the Emunah Afula Children's Center in Israel. When I visited there in 2012, I felt an immediate connection with one girl. She wasn't very eager to work on the art project, but slowly we made a masterpiece together. I knew then that I wanted this organization to be my mitzvah project.

Earlier this year, I looked up the Emunah website, and I found that they have programs that people can donate towards.  It seemed like a perfect match when I found that they're trying to raise money to buy instruments for the kids. I'm now raising money for their music program, because I believe every kid should have a chance to have music in their life.  Music is such a huge part of mine.  I don't know what I'd be doing without it, so I want to give all of those kids a chance to love it as much as I do.

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