Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mazel Tov...and now what do I say?

This weekend is my 13 year old daughter, Rayna's Bat Mitzvah.

 (For any readers not sure what that is, it's a Jewish Rite of Passage for kids turning 13 in which they lead prayers, and read a passage from the Torah - that's the "Old Testament" - a scroll written entirely in Hebrew. It takes months of preparation to learn. The student also prepares a speech about what all of this means to him or her. It signifies being old enough to take on a more responsible role - in fact, those who have had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah are counted as Jewish "adults" for the purposes of ritual and responsibility.)

As the mom of the Bat Mitzvah, I'm supposed to say a few words to my daughter in front of the congregation during the ceremony. I'm struggling to decide what to say. I mean, of course, "I'm so proud of you, you're such a beautiful young woman inside and out, and you've grown so much" come to mind. But beyond that...I'm feeling stumped.

Those of you who have been blog readers here will probably know that I struggle personally with formal religion. This is especially so because Reiki gave me my spiritual connection, not praying in temple. I'm really saying it lightly here, because I actually harbor a lot of resentment toward formal prayer. It really does nothing for me spiritually except frustrate me. I think Reiki has changed me into a Spiritualist. But I'm still a Spiritualist in a Jewish life, with a Jewish family and kids that go to Jewish Day School. So I keep my inner conflicts hidden for the most part (except here in my blog where I can let it fly!) 

This ceremony is special and important for my daughter, certainly. She's done a very dedicated job preparing and I know she'll lead her parts with grace and competence. But to me, really, this ceremony is more about a coming of age than a spiritually uplifting event. 

Family and friends are coming in from out of town and locally to attend. They'll all be so proud of Rayna, congratulate her on her accomplishment. Look at what she did: she learned a lot of prayers in Hebrew. And she can lead them confidently in front of friends and family. She learned her Torah part and wrote a nicely educational speech with a dash of humor. Well done. 

I acknowledge with some relief that other people will find this more spiritually meaningful than I do. 

Rayna and her siblings are being brought up a little differently from other Jewish kids at their school. In addition to learning and practicing Judiasm, my kids do Reiki. At home, they also talk about angels, crystals, and know how to use pendulums and Tarot cards. I think they already are far more spiritually advanced at their age than I was with a Master's Degree in Jewish Studies at age 37. So what can I say in front of this congregation, that will be sincere, and also inspiring in some way to my daughter?

I guess I could focus on what I want for her. I hope that she will always be proud of who she is. I hope that she will continue to grow and listen to her heart. I hope that she will always know that she has permission to question and wrestle with everything she is taught...even by me. 

I hope that will be enough. 


Tamu Ngina said...

Even Yacov avinu wrestled with the angel. Mazel tov.

Anonymous said...

Meditate and listen to what your heart says. Congratulations on the Bat Mitzvah.
I would love to add this info as well for other readers.
Bat "בת" is Hebrew for girl, and Mitzvah "מצוה" is a commandment and a law. While this literally translates to "son of the law" or "daughter of the law", the rabbinical phrase "bar" means here "under the category of" or "subject to", making "Bar Mitzvah" translate to "an [agent] who is subject to the law". According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13, they become accountable for their actions and become a Bar Mitzvah (plural: B'nai Mitzvah). A Bat Mitzvah occurs when Jewish girls become 12, and it means the same as it does for boys- a rite of passage from being considered unable to properly understand the Torah to being considered old enough to begin to understand and thus for boys and girls alike to be treated more like adults. In addition to being considered accountable for their actions from a religious perspective, B'nai mitzvah may be counted towards a minyan (prayer quorum) and may lead prayer and other religious services in the family and the community. The age of B'nai Mitzvah was selected because it roughly coincides with physical puberty. Prior to a child reaching Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's actions. After this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.

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Anonymous said...

Hi I don't know much about Reiki but I struggel with formal religion too.I believe the universe offers you spiritual guidance when you tap into this its complete nature there are no faults,religion is man made.everything man made is distructive.

San Antonio Conference said...

A parent can give everything for her daughter's happiness. I adore her commitment and sacrificial love for the sake of her family. What a genuine love from a parent.

Dawn Westmoreland said...

I love reading about Reiki

reiki music said...

She's a blessed daughter. She must take good care of this necklace until such time another generation will have it.

Mindy Trotta said...

Give her a blessing. You don't need to go back through her entire life and mention every moment she amazed you, or was special. She knows how special you think she is. (And everyone in attendance will be snoring at that point--like in so many services I've been to.)Tell her what you hope for her, and how her presence has touched and changed your life. It's sort of like a commencement speech, but not.

Mazal Tov!