I am a Jew, and now, a Bat Mitzvah.
I am the proud scion of an ancient people, a member of the tribe of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
My ancestors stood at the shores of the Red Sea, and my aunt and her family stood at the gates of Auschwitz.
I am my mother’s Friday night chicken soup, my father’s Yiddisha songs and the sound of his shofar.
I am the proud sister of every Jewish doctor, lawyer, humanitarian, author, scientist, scholar and benefactor of society.
I am the survivor of every pogrom and persecution.
Together with my bashert, I stood under a chupah and pledged my commitment according to the Laws of Moses and Israel.
I love the USA but my ancestral homeland lies half a world away, in Eretz Yisrael.
You can see my Jewishness on my face and on the walls and book shelves and doorposts of my home.
My Jewishness cannot be opted into or out of. As Mayim Bialik said, Jewish is more than my religion. It is my identity, my DNA, my personhood.
Today I fulfill a promise I made only to myself. I did not have to learn Hebrew to please anyone or become “more Jewish”. The promises we make to ourselves are often the most difficult to keep.
My Torah portion, Ki Tavo, tells how Moses, nearing the end of his days and with his life’s work behind him, looked out on the Promised Land. He knew his people would go forth and thrive. I plan to do exactly that.
I thank my patient and extremely knowledgeable Bat Mitzvah coach Larry Wallace, who gave hours of his time and knowledge to help me reach my goal. I thank all of you for sharing this day and my journey. And I thank and honor the man who has supported me unconditionally in whatever dream or challenge I have undertaken to pursue over the last 50 years, since we were both teenagers, my husband Stu.