Eternal Journey

March 4, 2012
I knew it came to the time where I had to start my single, eternal journey. Time ticked in my mind,'3...2...1' my time began. It was now my decision whether or not to make the right choice to move forward. "And now, Melanie will be called up to read her haftorah," proclaimed the young bearded man, Rabbi Kornberg, with a wide smile. PAUSE. The whole room stopped before me. I panicked, not knowing whether to get up or to continue staring into space. I was scared for what was yet to come. Worried, I tried to recall the beginning prayer that led to my parasha (torah reading)- I forgot it all. I looked around the premises of the synagogue; the environment made me sick as I felt I could not breath. I felt nauseous as though I was to mess up in front of the whole congregation. I focused on my breathing patterns and calmed down as I started to move forward. PLAY. Tentatively, I looked at my elated brother with my apprehensive eyes. He gave me the thumbs up, and a warm smile for good luck, which gave me the necessary boost I needed. I hesitated for my prayer book and walked up to the table where I started to lead the congregation, of about one-hundred-fifty people, each and every one of them stared at me with blank expressions. I walked as slow as a baby turtle. I thought of all the things that could happen, "What if I mess up?" "All these months will go to waste!" "I will mess up." "Don't mess up!" "Stop worrying!" All these mixed emotions conjured in my brain; I didn't know how to contain these sensations. I placed my prayer book down and began to open up to the first page of my parasha, with my shaky hands, to top off to the mere sluggishness. I opened my mouth, to start my chant, but nothing appeared to come out, no words but the threat of how to pronounce the first trope. Different blessings danced in my head but I had no recollection of how to pronounce that one simple blessing. Apprehensively, I took a brief moment to go through all of the prayers I remembered in my head that started with the same first word'Baruch'. "AHAH!" I thought, "Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam..." I continued. That was the day of my Bat Mitzvah, which marked the beginning of my everlasting journey.
It was a hot summer day in early June, six months before my Bat Mitzvah, my brain burned from the heat of the fresh prayers that punctured my skull. Left and right, Hebrew tropes, tunes, vowels, and words jumped at me. "How will I remember all of this?" "Will I put a different trope with an inaccurate word?" "How will I pronounce this all?" I panicked. Later that day I entered my house just to answer the haunting questions that penetrated my body, adding on more pressure. "When will we find a dress?" "What kind of food would you like?" "How many friends are coming?" Asked my concerned mother, pouring each question on me, one by one. So many concerns pierced my brain, one knife at a time. First, on my list, were invitations with correct labels of the guests' names and addresses. Second, was finding a dress. I searched high and low for a perfect match. I picked two dresses, both of which described my personality on the day that I wore each dress. The sleek grey service dress described the professional, calm, adult had yet to become; and the black and silver evening dress described the joyful, formal woman celebrating an amazing achievement at dawn. Third, was finding a mitzvah project that spoke to me. This project showed that I was committing to an adult life in this chaotic world and what I would like to be able to pass on to others. Although this seemed to be the most intricate item on my list, to me, it was relaxing. I devoted my spare time to thinking about this project, and quickly thought of the one thing that I had a long-standing passion for,'Going Green'. I made an organization,'Teens For Saving Earth' and told all of my friends and family about it, encouraging them to help out and save the future generations and our planet. Lastly, I had to create a speech about my parasha; the portion I was reading from the Torah. My parasha had to cover and translate what I was reading in my portion from the Torah and what I was pledging to as an adult Jew. This speech also had to describe what my contributions would be to the Jewish community as well as the world. In about six weeks all these hectic ideas collaborated into one wonderful Saturday morning service, the big day known as my Bat Mitzvah service.
Time flew by and the meaningful day was here in the blink of an eye. It was a bright and sunny Christmas morning, December 25th, the day of my Bat Mitzvah service. "And now, Melanie will be called up to read her haftorah," proclaimed the young bearded man, Rabbi Kornberg, with a wide smile. I walked up to the Bimah (raised platform or desk where the torah is read) where I was to lead the congregation in prayer. I took in a deep breath to exile my hesitation from my being. I sang my parasha, strong and with a proud attitude. I was excited to be in such a warm environment and to be confident with my voice in front of a huge audience. As I carried on with my reading I didn't want to stop and took in the feeling of being so amazingly poised. I didn't want to stop singing and smiled uncontrollably as though my lips were glued to my cheeks. I stood in confidence as though I had just won an Oscar and cherished the moment of leading in the back of my head forever, for future occasions.
Thinking back in my life, when the times got tough and when there were moments where I thought something was impossible, I referenced back to the preparation for my Bat Mitzvah. I repetitively told myself that nothing is impossible if you try, and practice, because practice makes perfect. I nailed my Bat Mitzvah readings even when I thought it was impossible to achieve in greatness and significance. This event carried on in my life and will continue to motivate me to move to higher levels and excel in every stage. My Bat Mitzvah also showed me how to observe my Jewish core values and what it means to be a Bat Mitzvah (a daughter of the commandments). My Bat Mitzvah also prepared me for the greater challenges in life such as simply speaking to an audience. This experience taught me how to enunciate and project my voice along with being comfortable in front of a large audience. And, most importantly, my Bat Mitzvah taught me responsibility as I entered my adult life of being a Jewish woman.

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