We put the Mitzvah back in Bat Mitzvah!
Updated: Jul 21
This July, my first born reached an important mile stone, her Bat Mitzvah.
As her special day was getting near, I came to the realization that what i had envisioned for the occasion was not going to be possible. No special hall, fancy gown, candle lighting ceremony...nope, no sir.
As the Pandemic shifted in New York other parts of the world seemed to continue to struggle under the fist of Covid 19.
Some of it was circumstantial, we simply realized our families would not be able to attend our big celebration.
Instead, we re discussed with my daughter and divised a plan that would certainly honor her Bat Mitzvah.
In celebration of my little princess,we decided to host her best friends for a sleep over, followed by an opportunity for all the girls to be pampered in a nail salon enjoying manicures and massages the following morning.
The night of the sleep over, we took everyone out for dinner. At the restaurant (in our own private section) my daughter Sofia read a Dvar Torah, Torah words of inspiration.
Her topic was the importance of candle lighting. In preparation to her speech, she had read multiple opinions of women around the world. The author's shared their own source of inspiration and what it meant for them to perform the candle lighting ceremony every Friday.
Sofia selected her favorite three opinions and shared them with us on her big day.
We also donated in Sofia's honor a sum to the CHIPS Shelter in Park Slope. The money we gave provides food and shelter for a baby and mother for a week. What could be better than giving back to the community on our baby's special day.
Of course, it would not be a Bat Mitzvah if there wasn't something a little over the top. Therefore we personalized a congratulations banner, we ordered a show stopping giant cake with pink lovely butter cream flowers. Of course we could not have done this without personalized souvenirs and chocolates courtesy of mom.
The joyous occasion left everyone happy and mom here quite exhausted to be frank.
Nevertheless, after all was said and done, I did feel a big sense of accomplishment.
You see, I personally never had a Bat Mitzvah, no over the top cake, speech, no banners or personalized souvenirs in my honor. No special outfit or small gathering in a restaurant to raise a glass in my honor.
I finally got it. I was able to give my daughter what i did not get and it gave me tremendous satisfaction.
The twelve year old in me got a second chance to do over this special day. It was an amazing feeling, tremendously healing and gratifying.
The second realization was even more powerful.
Somewhere in between the Dvar Torah, the giant cake and the donation, I realized that we did in fact had our perfect Bat Mitzvah.
Perhaps it was not in a fancy hall with all of our special people, but that Thursday night we celebrated my daughter as we welcomed her into spiritual adulthood and it could not have been more perfect.
The message was loud and was clear, we love you, these values are special to us and they are for you to carry with you for the rest of your beautiful long and happy life.
No Pandemic can truly get in the way to celebrate a milestone. The key is to find the way to bring it to fruition even if it looks absolutely different from anything you pictured.
The goal is to celebrate despite the limitations, send the message that it is worthwhile to highlight a special moment despite things not fitting exactly into our original mold.
Sometimes we envision or dream of a moment in such specific grand ways that we create unnecessary limitations and obstacles for ourselves.
There is no need for big gowns, candle lighting ceremonies or a big dinner in grand hall. The special milestone is bigger than all of those things. My advice to you all is make sure to find what really speaks to you and what you really need. Once those elements are present the event will be perfect.
On my daughter's Bat Mitzvah the last lesson learned was the one for me to takeaway.
A simple, meaningful celebration was all we really needed to create the memory we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
A time that taught us to rethink, be flexible and reinvent the way we celebrate milestones.
Perhaps that after all is the icing on the cake.