September 19, 2018

A Bat Mitzvah Blessing to Our Daughter.

Nooshin (N).  My dear Ariel.

Afshine (A).  My dear Ariel.

N.  It’s wonderful to see your family and friends gather around you in this holy place.  You might think that this is all about you.

A.  It's actually about your place within Judaism.  You see, my grandpa Aghajan prayed daily but did not have the means to have a Bar Mitzvah and my grandma Tooba loved the Torah but she was not allowed to touch it or read from it.  But you are fortunate to stand here and take your place among Jewish women with pride.  This Mitzvah is about your responsibility to your heritage and what you will do for the Jewish people in return. 

A.  You might think that today is a graduation or the end of your Jewish education.

N.  It's actually the beginning of you as a Jewish woman.  You are now free to explore any part of Judaism as you wish.  Jewish cooking.  Jewish literature.  Jewish art.  Jewish music.  And with your unique mind, and all you’ve learned about Torah and the Land of Israel, you will find a way to contribute to the Jewish people.  Your grandparents in Shushan were Jewish.  Your parents here today are Jewish.  You are Jewish.  Today is the start of something great.  We pray that one day you will marry a Jewish man and raise your own Jewish family.

N.  You might think that now you’re all grown up and you can stop being our child.

A.  No.  One thing will never change- we will always be your parents and you will always be that 2.5 lb preemie who interrupted our Shabbat dinner to be born two months early.  We named you Ariel which means Lioness of God because you were and are as strong as a lion.  You entered our lives and turned us from being a husband-and-wife into a family.  To us, you are the promise of a better life.  We want you to live that promise.  

A.  You might think we will always want to make decisions for you.

N.  No. We want to set you free to fly and express your own self.  You have so much capacity for love and compassion in your heart.  Ever since you could talk, you loved animals and wanted to hold them, feed them and protect them.  You are also a great chef who pays attention to detail and takes joy when others enjoy your food.  But most of all you have a forgiving heart.  You have taught me not to hold a grudge and never to go to bed angry. 

N.  You might ask “how can I repay my parents?”

A.   The greatest gift you can give us is to be happy and grateful for your life.  When you wake up and smile, when you sit with your sister Talia to discuss your day, when you go out with your brother David to play, when you run in the backyard and play fetch with Bella, those are the greatest gifts you could give us. What makes us happiest is to see you do random acts of kindness, like when you make food for a friend that’s sick or decide to give old clothes and toys to charity without being asked.

A.  You might think that you deserve all this.

N.  Well, you do.  But remember that you didn’t earn it.  You are just lucky. You are lucky to live in a country where you can think and speak your thoughts freely, where you are encouraged to love, to laugh, and to dance.  You are lucky to have parents who can put you through a fabulous Jewish school.  You are lucky to have grandparents- I never had them.  You are lucky to have a large caring family and cousins who are excited to spend time with you on the weekends.  You are lucky to have teachers and administrators that are so focused on your wellbeing.  You are lucky to have rabbis and cantors who support you in becoming a kind and compassionate Jewish woman.  Here, you learned Tikkun Olam.  At Temple Wise, you learned to make great happen.

N.  You might think that life is always going to be secure and easy.  We hope that we’ve given you the tools to deal with the challenges life will bring.  We wish you a meaningful and a joyous journey.  Our parents left their country so that we would be better.  The greatest gift they gave us is America.  Now we want to give you the same gift, so you can be even better than the past generation.

A.  My dear Ariel- When bad things happen people ask “why did it have to happen to me.”  I want you to ask yourself that question when good things happen. Then, your heart will be filled with gratitude and you will be eager to give back.   Our tradition teaches that each person should write his or her own Torah.  I want you to live your Torah.  Be good and do good so that when someone walks past you they say “there goes a good person and she is a Jew.”  Be the kind person that will motivate others to be better. 

Togther: Our hearts have been yours since the day you were born and will always be yours.  We love you.