A Day to Always Remember This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 30, 2012
One moment in your life can change you completely. Especially a moment that you have been preparing for your whole life. Since the third grade, I have been working and studying for a single day that would change my life. The date of that phenomenon was May 22nd, 2010; My Bat Mitzvah. A Bat Mitzvah is a celebration of a Jewish girl entering the Jewish world as a woman. It usually happens when the girl or boy is 12 or 13 years old. Boys do the same thing, but it is called a Bar Mitzvah. Also, if you share it with another person, it’s called a B’nai Mitzvah. I did that with my best friend, Grant Chelstrom. We have been friends since birth basically, and sharing this milestone together made our bond stronger than ever. Even though we shared this whole experience, I will tell my stories from a Bat Mitzvah perspective because it will be much easier.

Entering the third grade, I knew that the third graders start to attend classes that would teach us the Hebrew language. I was exploding with excitement to start to gain a better understanding of my religion. “Abby, wake up! It’s time to go to Synagogue!” my mom had yelled from downstairs. I leaped up, and got ready as quickly as possible. As soon as I had arrived at synagogue and entered the building, I knew that I was beginning my path to one of the greatest milestones in my life so far. To have a Bat Mitzvah, you need to know Hebrew, how to write Hebrew, how to read Hebrew, and how to pronounce Hebrew. It is a very complex language, and I am still learning bits and pieces of it to this day. To fulfill having a Bat mitzvah, you need to be able to read out of the torah. The torah is the sacred book for Jewish people, full of Hebrew. It’s like the Christian bible, but for Jewish people. To read out of it is very complicated, but with years of preparation, you will soon get the hang of it, and most likely by the date of your Bat/Bar Mitzvah.

On Saturday mornings, starting in the fifth grade, you attend classes at synagogue. You are always eligible to go to synagogue, but when you enter the fifth grade, you really start to actually prepare for your big day. When you go to these classes, this is the year when you get your prayer book. It’s full of prayers and blessings that you need to learn and have nailed into the back of your brain. As I flipped through the freshly opened book, my nose was filled with a fresh smell that the new, dry pages had held. Throughout my years in the fifth grade, my intelligence of the Hebrew prayers increased, week-by-week and year-by-year.

The next year, I had entered the sixth grade. You still attend these Saturday morning programs up until the 7th grade. In the 6th grade, you receive your Tikkun. A Tikkun is all of the torah portions, put into book form, rather than the actual, sacred torah. This is so you can practice your torah portion you must perform on your Bat/Bar Mitzvah. Throughout this year that I attended synagogue, the classes were based on your torah portion and basically memorizing what you have to read out of the actual torah when you step upon the Bimah. The Bimah is the stage you perform your Bat Mitzvah on. I received my Tikkun with much gratitude and felt like I was maturing as the weeks went on, and that is because I actually was. As the year of sixth grade moved onwards, I had learned most of my torah portion. This was something I was extremely proud of because that meant that I would be able to spend the seventh grade going over my torah portion each week, but also practicing my D’var Torah. A D’var torah is a speech you must put together that is about the lessons and morals of your torah portion. This means you must translate your torah portion into English form, then into story form and break it up into bits and pieces. You must perform the speech that you put together in front of the whole congregation. You must engage them into your speech and life experiences by truly understanding what your torah portion is all about. This teaches you how to speak in front of a large group of people and how to gain confidence in what you are saying.

It was about time that the seventh grade had approached me. I still attended synagogue every Saturday, went to the classes, learned, and prepared. My big day was creeping up on me quicker and quicker. I was very close to having my torah portion memorized, and soon after, I had it all down. My speech was ready, my torah portion was ready to be performed, and my confidence was there. I had everything I needed; especially my family and friends support, not to mention my best friend, Grant, at my side at all times.

My alarm clock buzzed obnoxiously at 5:45 AM. I opened my eyes painfully, but then realized that today was May 22nd, 2010, the big day. My mom had yelled from the downstairs, “Abby, get up! It’s your day!” I hopped out of bed in the blink of an eye. It had all come so soon. It seemed like just yesterday that my mom was calling me down to go to my first day of classes at synagogue. Now I would be arriving at synagogue, not to attend classes, but to prove to everybody what I have learned over the past 10 years of learning everything. It seemed like I was only in the fifth grade, receiving my first prayer book, but today I will be entering adult-hood in the Jewish world. After I had gotten all freshened up, I ripped my closet doors open, just like a starving old man would rip open the refrigerator. I laid eyes on the dress I was about to put on for the biggest day of my life. I slipped into my heels, stepped into the garage, only to get into the car to head over to synagogue. The clock struck 9:30 AM; time to get this show on the road. Before the service had begun, I remember the exact words my parents had said to me before I walked on to the Bimah. They said to me, “Abby, this is your day. Make it the best day of your life. You have been preparing for this day since you were born basically, and we couldn’t be more proud of you. We love you so much and always will. Now go show everyone what you and Grant are made of.” I knew Grants parents had said the same to him, knowing that they feel the same way my parents do. The congregation was getting all settled into their seats, just as the rabbi called me up to the Bimah. I walked up with a few things on my mind: to make myself proud, to make my family proud, and to just have the greatest day of my life. I stood behind the podium and looked out to the congregation. I heard the rumbling chatter of all of the people and my families encouraging, sweet cheers to do the best I can do. As all of the talking died down, Grant and I knew it was time to begin. Faces were staring right back at me as I looked out, and I smelt interest in the air. We took the torah out of the ark and set it on the podium. As the rabbi opened it, I inhaled the dryness of the old pages.

It was nearing 12 o’clock, and the Bat Mitzvah was coming to an end very soon. To end the services, you must close with the drinking of the wine, along with the prayer for wine, as well as eating the challah, including the prayer for eating of the challah. We walked over the other podium where the rabbi stood with the wine and challah. My family and I performed the prayers and it was time to eat and drink. I sipped the wine first, and its bitterness danced around on my taste buds. The challah was sweet and soft as usual and a delightful treat for my mouth. I looked over to my family with a smile of relief on my face. I looked out to the congregation with great gratitude and knew that I had conquered an obstacle I had been preparing for since the third grade. I felt absolutely amazing, but also remorseful because I have been preparing for this day forever, and now it’s over. It was the best day of my life. Grant and I stepped off of the Bimah, both having entered the Jewish world as adults, looked and each other, and just smiled with the biggest smiles that a face could ever hold. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend in the world. The night of May 22nd was party time and Grant and I were ready to dance this big day away with all of our friends and family. To this day, I am still so proud of completing this coming-of-age achievement and will never forget it until the day I die.

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BloglessBlogger said...
May 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm
I had to miss a Bar Mitzah but I am not of the Jewish religion completely, just the background. Reading your story I wish I had.
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