Mazel Tov to me!
Everyone in my household is an adult. In our home becoming a Bnai mitzvah means that you are now in charge of your own Jewish choices. For both of my kids, that meant trying pork within 24 hours of their initiation into Jewish adulthood. Erez’s response: meh? He was not impressed. It is fine with me. Our goal was to raise knowledgeable and empowered Jewish children who would become knowledgeable and empowered Jewish adults. Making your own choices based on your own values and wisdom is a big part of becoming an adult in our family. And I am glad my child wants to explore what Jewish practice (or lack thereof) might be right for him. His life, his choices. My work now is to be supportive and loving of all healthy choices he makes and to cheer him on in the independent adult he is on his way to becoming. My older son Ozi is a freshman at the University of Washington (and I said nothing) was beyond delighted to see the packed his bar mitzvah tallit when he packed for school this fall. Everyone should be able to feel good about making their own choices about their Jewish path: supported and empowered.
This is also what I want for all of you in 2020. How can I work with you and be a friend, guide, cheerleader, and teacher in helping you live a knowledgeable and empowered Jewish life—or life in general? What does it mean to be a bar/bat/B’nai Mitzvah, a Jewish adult, in your own life? Is there something you would like to learn or explore? Is there an aspect of Jewish spiritual practice you would like to incorporate in your life? How can Judaism be a value added to your life each and every day? Especially considering how crazy many aspects of our reality seem to be these days? How can Judaism keep you filled with hope and a vision for a healthy future?
Now that I have brought my own two children to Jewish adulthood my work is to lead and care for any and all Jews who seek guidance and support in their own Jewish lives. I have fulfilled my obligations to my children as a Jewish parent but I have far from fulfilled my obligation to the Jewish people. This is my life long work.
Thank you to all who drove down to Olympia to celebrate with my family. It gave me so much joy to have you there-to see your faces in the congregation that is the congregation of my life. I am truly blessed with a loving congregation. It has been over 5 years now that I have been living my life alongside your lives and I could not ask for a nicer and more loving group of people. I was honored by your presence.
Have a happy and healthy New Year! May 2020 be filled with gaining new wisdom and knowledge and with empowered action to make our world the place we KNOW it can be: as loving and kind as Kol Ami.