A Parent’s Words to a Bat Mitzvah
By Marci Manker
January 27, 2007
About 2 years ago we came to a Bar Mitzvah here (I think it was Jacob’s) and Sierra asked me, “Mom, can I have a Bat Mitzvah?” And I replied, “Of course you can. But please don’t expect me to get up and make a speech in front of everyone”. Because, while I’m not afraid to say what I think, I have a much harder time expressing what’s in my heart. But I really can’t let this day go by without saying a few words.
Let me begin by telling you that the idea to have a Bat Mitzvah was all Sierras. I didn’t dissuade her, but neither did I encourage her. I told her that it would be a lot of work, requiring hours of study and a strong commitment. And that while there would be people to help her, the responsibility would ultimately be hers; that no one else could do it for her. And she said, “I want to do it”. She wasn’t motivated by ideas of an elaborate party or lavish gifts, because shed had no exposure to Bar or Bat Mitzvahs of that nature. The choice to embark on this journey came from her heart, from her desire to align herself with the Jewish faith.
Preparing for this day was a learning experience. Aside from the obvious of learning the blessings and her parsha, preparing her speech, and thinking about and embarking on a mitzvah project, Sierra learned some other very adult lessons. But isn’t that what the transition from childhood to adulthood is all about; learning responsibility, learning that there are consequences to your actions, and learning that what you do affects not only yourself but also those around you. A lesson very similar to the one that Pharaoh had such a hard time learning.
Sierras dad and I had only one child. And I’ve always felt that because we have only one, G-d made her a very, very special child. Every time I look at Sierra I know this is true.
Sierra is the kindest person I have ever known. She rarely speaks poorly of anyone, and goes out of her way to make others feel included, important, and special.
She’s thoughtful, considerate, caring, and sensitive (sometimes to a fault).
She’s smart, focused, organized, and levelheaded. She’s mature beyond her years, and always has been.
She has a sweet and gentle nature, a sunny disposition, and an ever positive outlook (traits that I hope she maintains through her teenage years).
To say that I’m proud of her is an understatement. I’m proud of her not just today, but everyday.
So what do I wish for my daughter on her Bat Mitzvah? Of course, I wish her the obvious things that every parent wants for their children: good health, happiness, love, a world that’s at peace.
I wish that she never want for life’s basic necessities.
I wish her freedom from hate and persecution, work that is fulfilling, friends she can count on.
But I don’t wish her never to make a mistake, because that defies the nature of being human. Instead, I wish that she learns from her mistakes, or shell be bound to repeat them.
I don’t wish that she never face adversity, because there is no way to escape that in the course of life. But that when faced with adversity, she finds the internal strength to overcome it.
I wish her a few challenges, so she learns just how much she can achieve when she works hard and devotes herself to a task.
I can’t wish that she never know the pain of loss, I’m too late for that. But I wish that by facing loss she learn how very precious and fleeting life is, and that it is never to be taken for granted.
And I wish her to know that she is loved, very, very much. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. I love you, Sierra.