Rabbi Hammerman, Mrs. Hammerman and all of our guests,
As you know, I had a bat mitzvah celebration over December break in Florida where I was able to celebrate with my Florida family. It was over Chanukah and I spoke about the idea of Chanukah as a time of rededication because the Jews rededicated the temple after they won the war against the Greeks.
Rabbi Yael Levy, in her ritual called ”Rededication: 8 teachings and practices for Chanukah” suggests that we should rededicate ourselves to chesed, lovingkindness. But not just any kindness, a radical kindness allowing us to constantly seek ways to be better towards each other through thoughts and good deeds.
My parents taught us to be kind, to look for ways to help and to be there for others. Growing up, they had very little tolerance for bad behavior and would tell us that the worst news they can hear from school is that we were ill-behaved and not that we did poorly on a test. I got through all of those conferences fine. I am not sure about my 3 other siblings!
So today, I rededicate myself to remember to thank the bus driver, the server, the teacher, the speaker, the door holder. To comfort, to listen and to give a hug. To take extra care with my words, to learn Jewish values through Torah and to use my time to help others.
In this week’s parshah, Bo, G-d brings the Jews out of Egypt and commands the Israelites to establish a calendar based on the moon. This is the first mitzvah in the Torah.
This relates to my becoming a Bat Mitzvah because I now have the responsibility of performing mitzvot and being responsible for my own behavior. It is time to take pride in the good and learn from mistakes along the way. It is also the time to understand that the responsibility to be kind exists whether someone is watching or whether you are alone and you know you will not be recognized for your actions.
So on this day of my Bat mitzvah, let us all remember the miracle of G-d bringing the Jews out of Egypt and the miracles we have every day.
I want to thank you for coming today and sharing my simcha with me. I want to especially thank Rabbi Hammerman for encouraging me to do this and to Mrs. Hammerman for making Hebrew School fun and for great snacks. I would also like to thank them for welcoming us into this Mishpacha and for practicing radical kindness.
Celebrating with community and my NY family means so much to me.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higiyanu laz'man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
May the radical kindness of the mitzvot we perform brighten our hearts all year filling us with love and peace and well being. May we rededicate ourselves to embrace moments of joy and to join in laughter finding reasons to celebrate today and for generations to come.
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