Alex. Cohen Bar Mitzvah, Dec. 5, 2020 Part 1 (to download, click here)
Part 2 (to download, click here)
Shabbat Shalom everyone,
Thank You for joining me here this Shabbat morning for the celebration of my Bar Mitzvah.
I’ve been coming to Temple Beth El since I was a baby. And even through zoom, this has always been my second home.
As we all know, 2020 has been a challenging year. Not only because of how the pandemic impacted our lives, but also because of the rise in civil rights activism. That is what triggered my interest in politics this year. Over the past few months, I have been following the news with great anxiety leading up to the election.
My Torah portion teaches us about the importance of grappling with the world around us. In the Torah, Jacob does just that. As he is returning to his homeland after twenty years, he is terrified about meeting up with his brother Esau, who had wanted to kill him. So the night before that meeting, Jacob is struggling with his feelings and that struggle turns into an actual wrestling match with a stranger. Some say it’s an angel, some say it’s another man, and others say Jacob is wrestling with himself. Whoever it is, he is grappling with the world around him.
That is why it is so important to me that I also grapple with what is going on around the world. Jacob struggles with God to right the wrongs of the past. When dawn arrives, they stop fighting and the stranger gives Jacob the new name, “Israel,” which means someone who wrestles with God. That name has become one of the names for the Jewish people.
Come to think of it, to be Jewish means to be someone who struggles with God and the world around them. Someone who is never afraid to speak up about issues that bother them. That is why I have been using my voice as much as possible to educate people and make them aware of the injustices in the world.
As a mitzvah project, I chose to work with Kids Helping Kids teaching them how to make presentations on the Internet. This could help kids begin using their voices and interacting with the world around them from a young age.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me on this journey to becoming who I am, and to become a Bar Mitzvah.
Screen Shots (click to enlarge)
Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat, December 4 (to download, click here)