The Bat Mitzvah

WCCO’s Jordana Green shares the speech she gave for her daughter’s big celebration


I’ve missed you! I’m so happy to be back blogging for MNMO and you, it’s been a busy summer. I hope you had a fantastic season. I also hope you followed my other blog and video series at Midwest Home magazine about remodeling our new home, that’s been taking up a lot of time. But now the house is done and the kids are back in school … still, I was busy with another big event.

This weekend was Marley’s, my oldest daughter’s, Bat Mitzvah. It’s the time when a 12/13-year-old girl (Bar Mitzvah for a boy) becomes an adult in the Jewish faith. The kids study for years to prepare, they learn Hebrew, prayers, and Torah. Then they lead the service and have a big party. Usually this is done in a synagogue but we opted to host the whole weekend at Marley’s summer camp. Herzl Camp is where she feels most connected to her Judaism. A Bat/Bar Mitzvah is a rite of passage and this weekend was a very spiritual and beautiful event for our whole family.

Traditionally, the parents give a speech during the service. I did, and I wanted to share it with you. I brought tissues when I delivered it to Marley, but I managed to make it through without too many voice cracks. Being on the radio and TV seemed easier than speaking from the heart in front of people I love, but Marley said I didn’t embarrass her too badly … here goes.

“Marley, I am so proud of you. I have watched you learn, study, struggle, and complain through years of Hebrew school. It has not always been easy for either of us, but at this moment it is of course all worth it.  When it comes to your Jewish learning I am most proud of the strong connection and bond you have with our heritage. I can feel your pride in being a member of our tribe which is, as you mentioned last night, only .2% of the worlds’ population. That connection you feel is not something they can teach in any classroom yet it is in your heart.

This moment when you become a Bat Mitzvah is ancient yet critical for our lineage. You are a direct link to Sara, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah and I pray that you will cherish that link, nurture it, and instill it in your children and grandchildren. Being a Jewish woman in this day and age is nearly a miracle. Since the existence of our people there have been those set on destroying us. But here you are standing in front of all these witnesses to proudly and freely take your place in our history. You are a miracle. But now you have responsibilities. Not only to God, to observe your Mitzvot of out the 613. But to your people and the world. Being a strong Jewish woman is not easy. The world will tempt you otherwise, with school activities or dates on Shabbat, non-Kosher but seemingly delicious food, and easy alternatives that you may find more convenient than the rituals and commandments of our faith. You are strong Marley, you have already overcome challenges in your young life with grace. You have shared your strength with your brother and sister which has led to a beautiful sibling relationship that I know can never be broken. Just the other week when you got a migraine you said you were glad it was you and not Maddox or Ruby because you didn’t want them to have to go through that pain. You always seem to be taking care of them. Hearing the three of you laugh together is the most joyful sound in the universe. Thank you for giving me the gift of that sound and helping create one of the most beautiful relationships between humans I’ve ever witnessed.

Marley, you know right from wrong and you know that Chesed (kindness) and Emmes (truth) are always the answers. You already practice these in your daily life and I know you will continue on this path. I am so proud of the strong, smart, empathetic, kind, fair, righteous, forgiving and caring person you are.

When Marc first met you 5 years ago, he said, “Good job on that one, she’s already cooked, she’s set for life, on a good path.”  He could sense your confidence and poise even at age 8. I was not ready to stop mothering and start cheerleading at that young age, and I will always have your back, but now I get to root you on and guide you from a different angle so you can set your own path and take your place in this world.

Marley, it has been my honor to see the daughter, sister, friend and woman you’ve become. I am proud and so very grateful to be your mother. May you be blessed and continue to be a blessing to your people.”

This week I wish for you a reason to celebrate any accomplishment … and a few voice cracks because you are so filled with pride and joy.

Photos courtesy of Jordana Green


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