Saturday, May 18, 2024

TBE Torah Commentary, plus Zoom Recording and Screen Shots: Ilana and Madelyn Meth on Emor



Hello everybody. Shabbat shalom. 

As a lot of you may know, I was in Israel last summer. Little did I know what would happen a couple months later. The events of October 7th had a huge impact on me. It was such a terrible thing, and my heart will always be with the hostages and families of lost ones. 

But despite all the bad things that have happened, I have learned a lot about being Jewish, and this has helped me in finding my Jewish pride. I became very interested in my faith, and especially expanding my knowledge on the Holocaust. Even before my trip to Israel, my parents kept enforcing how important it is to have a proper, Jewish education. At the time, I had no idea why, and didn’t get why it was being stressed so much. Throughout 6th and 7th grade I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum in Israel), the Holocaust Heritage Museum in Long Island, and even more importantly, visited Israel and marched in solidarity for Israel in Washington, DC.  Besides going to all these places, our family has a few Jewish traditions too. For example, we go to services from time to time, celebrate shabbat almost every Friday night, go to temple on high holidays, and have our annual dreidel tournaments. After October 7th, I have realized why these traditions and what I have learned about Judaism is so important to me and my family. 

Which brings me to my Torah portion, Emor. Emor contains the rules and guidelines to living a purposeful and structured life. In order to live a purposeful Jewish life, I believe that the rules are the most important part in making it meaningful. So, I like to follow the rules. Mainly because doing the right thing makes me feel proud, and good inside. For example, following the rules of Judaism because they make every day special. The holiday Shabbat happens every week. If you strictly observe the teachings of the Torah, you would give yourself a day of rest to disconnect from everything going on, and not use any electronics. Or, if you are Kosher, not mixing meat and dairy. Even though I am not completely observant of of Judaism, I enjoy celebrating the holidays in a less restrictive way, by following some of the rules. For example, I didn’t eat flour and bread for the whole time of Passover this year.  Even when my whole class was having a pizza party, I sat there and ate my matzah pizza. There are other rules too that play a big role in keeping an organized life. 

But the rules of Judaism aren’t just about holidays and the ways of living.   They are about how to treat one another.  The portion before this one has all kinds of laws about that, including the most important of all, love your neighbor as yourself.  By following these laws, we are making the world a better place

So, the teachings of the Torah can be very useful in having an organized, meaningful life. 

Which brings me to my mitzvah project, Hearts for Holit.  During October 7th, Hamas invaded a Kibbutz in Israel called Holit. Holit is located really close to Gaza, so it was not safe for the members to continue living there. They all were relocated to various housing in the north, where it is safest for them. On my trip to Israel, I learned that one of the key aspects of Kibbutz life is community. Now that they are all separated, community is one thing they don’t have. So, in my mitzvah project I am aiming to re- establish community by sponsoring monthly events or get - togethers for all the members. This project means a lot to me because my community is so important to me. When I was in Israel, I became a Bat Mitzvah on Masada, but I am doing it again here for my community so I could celebrate with them too. 

As I am celebrating with my community, I am also honored in sharing this Mitzvah with my Bat Mitzvah twin Miriam, with whom I share a Hebrew name. Mira unfortunately was not able to have one of her own when she perished in the Holocaust and was never able to reach this milestone. 

I am also sharing this day with my real twin, Ilana. Mazel tov and congratulations! You did so good!


Shabbat Shalom and welcome to my Bat Mitzvah. Madelyn your speech was really good!

Even though I loved what you said about rule following, I’m going to talk about the opposite. Because I’m a bit of a “rule breaker.”

Even though following rules is really good, it’s also good to bend the rules sometimes.

This week’s Torah Portion talks about Rules. It talks about following rules and even breaking rules. What a coincidence that this applies to Madelyn and me.

We are both very different in many ways. Madelyn is a bit of a rulie, but me on the other hand I don’t like to play by the book.

And there are lots of rules worth arguing about.

My portion, for instance, contains laws about the priests, who led the people in worship.  The rules had nothing to do with what they did, but a lot to do with how they looked – and whether they had any disabilities or flaws.  I think it’s unfair to have rules like that.  But so did the Torah, because no such rules exist for any other kind of Jewish leader, like rabbis.  And many of the rules for priests set back then don’t apply anymore.

I think it’s important to break the rules from time to time because you can go down a new path and have it your own way.

If I had the chance, I’d rewrite some basic rules for school. For instance, who really needs homework?  I would write a new rule that there can’t be any homework and everything should be learned in school.  That would take a lot of pressure off kids so we can live wholesome lives.

Here’s another rule I would add to the Torah:  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

There have been lots of times when Jews have had to break rules because they were living in places where the rulers were cruel and evil.  In Nazi Germany, for instance.  During the Holocaust, many Jews broke rules by hiding and many non-Jews put their lives at risk to hide them.

Sometimes it’s not easy to know what’s right and what’s wrong. 

But one thing I’ve learned this year is that right now, helping Israel is what’s right.  And remembering the victims of October 7 and the Holocaust.


When I was in Israel over the summer, we were lucky enough to visit an Air Force base in the Negev desert and we met some of the pilots and crew. When October 7th happened I was devastated and was thinking about them every day as they we’re flying missions over Gaza.

For my Bat mitzvah project I'm donating money to their base to help them buy supplies that they can use to de-stress between missions and take a break. I also decided to create goodie bags for all the pilots and crew that included stress balls with their logo on it.

You can have one too if you donate 36 dollars or more!

I’d like to ask Madelyn to join me back up here.

After October 7th people kept saying the term “Never forget,” which is the saying that used to refer to the Holocaust.

And today, by sharing our B'not Mitzvah with Mira and Hania, who were among the million and a half kids who died during the Holocaust, we are showing that that we will never forget, about both the Holocaust and October 7, in order to make sure that something like that never happens again.

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