Seven Days To Go

In exactly one week I will be having my Bat Mitzvah ceremony. I have been preparing for tomorrow for over a year. It’s a big deal and sort of stressful. But what I’m having trouble coming to terms with is how little changes. When I was younger, I understood that a Bat Mitzvah was not about the party. But if it wasn’t about the party, what was it about? I concluded that something must change, on a religious level: I would, over the course of studying, figure out what I meant when I thought or talked about G-d and emerge from it better able to engage with G-d through the new things I would be able to do as a Jewish woman. Well, I’m running out of time. I haven’t really figured out what I believe about G-d, much less come up with a deep understanding and spiritual link to Him/Her/G-d. I’m still not entirely sure what the responsibilities of a Jewish woman are, how that works with being a seventh grader who can’t keep a sheet of Very Important Paper safe for more than 4 days, or whether I’m ready to fulfill this responsibility. I don’t know how this is going to change my connection to G-d and I’m not sure I want it to. And you know what? In ten days, I’m going to dress, eat breakfast, brush my hair, pack three binders, three pieces of homework, and assorted bits of school and roleplaying stuff, run off to catch my bus, and settle in for my fourth day of school just like everyone else in my grade. So if I’m going to change, I’m kind of still going to be the same confused thirteen year old I am now. Isn’t that a comforting thought?  Maybe, just like the oldest unit at camp has to continuously work on ‘becoming olim’ and living up to their name, a Bat Mitzvah has to work on becoming Bat Mitzvah. Because you never really get there, you know?

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4 Comments

  1. The fact that you are questioning and wondering about what it means to be a responsible Jewish woman and what you believe God is and what you relationship is with her shows that you are becoming a responsible Jewish adult woman. It is the becoming, not the arrival, that matters.

  2. I’ve been meaning to comment for a while; I guess now’s as good a time as any. This is another great post. I think you’re asking the right questions, and I think that’s often about all we can do. I think many of us spend a lifetime trying to figure this kind of stuff out–which on the one hand is intimidating, because if grownups don’t really know what they’re doing, then how’s a kid supposed to figure it out? But on the other hand I think it can also be comforting, because it means you have time; you don’t have to figure out *all* of the answers in the next ten days.

    …But really, I’m just repeating back to you what you already said. As you noted, you never really get there; and that’s fine. Some people say that the journey (rather than the destination) is the important thing; others say that the destination is important, but that since it’ll take us a long time (maybe forty years wandering in the desert?) to get there, if we ever do, that in the meantime we should keep an eye on where we are and how we’re traveling.

    –Jed

  3. Thanks for your comments. I am glad I’m not the only person who hasn’t gotten her religion figured out by age thirteen. I think you guys make an excellent point that I only kind of touched on in the post– that the journey matters. I have always kind of looked at it as two journeys: Becoming Bat Mitzvah and Being Bat Mitzvah. But now I’m looking at it differently for a change; maybe instead of two journeys there’s just one journey, and becoming Bat Mitzvah doesn’t change the road so much as how you look at it.

  4. This may be the first of many such experiences that you have in life. Even life events where some aspects of your life are truly *different* after the events of the day: graduation, wedding (maybe), birth of a child, don’t really change *you* and they don’t really change the things you do and believe all-of-a-sudden. Nobody really cares about the piece of paper you receive when you graduate. Your wedding (G-d willing) won’t be The Most Important Day of Your Life. Life-changing events are important signifiers of the paths we travel on our journey. They aren’t destinations in and of themselves, though I am very much looking forward to celebrating with you!

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