I would like to welcome you all to my Bat Mitzvah and thank you all for coming. It means a great deal to my family and I that you have come to share this Simcha with us.
As part of my learning with my Bat Mitzvah teacher, Aidel I wanted to focus on the strong female role models of our foremothers. They have set an example that I will use as a guide to live my life following my Bat Mitzvah. I want to be the best version of myself and our foremothers will help me to do this.
From ‘Sarah Imeinu’/Sarah, our mother, I pledge to follow in her steadfast belief in Hashem and to never give up. I look up to her exemplary modest nature, and the way she treated everyone with respect and kindness.
From ‘Rivkah Imeinu’/Rebecca, our mother I have learned the important lesson of shining through, no matter what our circumstances. Rivka was profoundly selfless and patient. Despite the environment that Rivkah grew up in, she never let this get in the way or cloud her sound judgement. I pledge to always have a positive energy, be giving and selfless and be a light onto others in every situation. Another important lesson that I have taken away from Rivkah is that with belief in Hashem and oneself, anything is possible. It is this faith that will hold me in good stead throughout the ups and downs of life.
From ‘Rachel Imeinu’/Rachel, our mother, I pledge to take on the quality of selflessness and do things out of my comfort zone. Rachel too, was also patient; she waited 14 years to marry her husband. In fact, Rachel’s prayers were the ones that Hashem listened to, above all others. Rachel is also another example of a powerful woman who did not let her surroundings affect her. In fact, her father, Lavan was an idol worshipper and this did not sway neither her, nor her sister, ‘Leah Imeinu’, the last of our foremothers, to follow in Lavan’s footsteps; rather they both chose a life of Torah and Mitzvot. As a Bat Mitzvah, I too am choosing a life of Torah and Mitzvot. Leah teaches us not to take things for granted and to have faith in Hashem that things will work out, no matter how bad things may seem.
I would like to thank my dear family for making me into the person I am today. Thank you for providing me with an environment in which I can grow, express myself and be proud.
Mum, you’ve helped me through tough times, especially when moving school and always giving me advice through the ups and downs.
Dad, your sense of humour always brightens the mood, when spirits are down, even though you always repeat the same jokes.
Zach, although we sometimes disagree, I will always look up to you.
Grandma Adrienne and Grandpa Geoffrey, thank you for your love and positive influences in my life. I love your company.
Grandma Debbie and Papa, thank you for all the fun times we have enjoyed together, I look forward to making many more memories with you all!
To my aunties, uncles and cousins, thank you for being shining examples for me to follow.
To my friends who I’ve met along the way, thank you for sticking by me throughout my life.
All of you are a part of the construction and brick work that has shaped me into the person I am today.
וַיִּקַּ֣ח קֹ֔רַח בֶּן־יִצְהָ֥ר בֶּן־קְהָ֖ת בֶּן־לֵוִ֑י וְדָתָ֨ן וַאֲבִירָ֜ם בְּנֵ֧י
אֱלִיאָ֛ב וְא֥וֹן בֶּן־פֶּ֖לֶת בְּנֵ֥י רְאוּבֵֽן׃
Now Korah, son of Itzhar son of Kohat son of Levi, betook himself, along with Datan and Avirum sons of Eliab, and On, son of Pelet—descendants of Reuben —
וַיָּקֻ֙מוּ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַאֲנָשִׁ֥ים מִבְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים וּמָאתָ֑יִם
נְשִׂיאֵ֥י עֵדָ֛ה קְרִאֵ֥י מוֹעֵ֖ד אַנְשֵׁי־שֵֽׁם׃
to rise up against Moses, together with two hundred and fifty Israelites, chief-tains of the community, chosen in the assembly, men of repute.
וַיִּֽקָּהֲל֞וּ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֲלֵהֶם֮ רַב־לָכֶם֒ כִּ֤י כׇל־הָֽעֵדָה֙ כֻּלָּ֣ם קְדֹשִׁ֔ים וּבְתוֹכָ֖ם יְהֹוָ֑ה וּמַדּ֥וּעַ תִּֽתְנַשְּׂא֖וּ עַל־קְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָֽה׃
They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and Hashem is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above Hashem’s congregation?”
Korach led a revolt of reputable men against Moshe and Aharon.
In our tradition, the truly great people are those who live selflessly for the sake of others, enriching our society through their grace, reverence, kindness and piety. To be great, means being a mensch, being there for the sake of others, whether the world knows about you or not. Korach wanted us to remember him because of his fame. Sadly, for him, we recall his name for the wrong reasons. And from him we can learn a lesson, and that is, each and every one of us can be truly great.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks brings forth a wonderful idea about Korach and leadership. He states that there are two forms/dimensions of leadership; these are power and influence. Often times, people confuse both of these; those who have power often have influence, and those who have influence have a certain kind of power. The two are quite different, even opposites. We can see this through a simple thought-experiment. Imagine you have total power, and then you decide to share it with nine others. You now have one-tenth of the power with which you began. Imagine, by contrast, that you have a certain measure of influence, and now you share it with nine others. How much do you have left? Not less. In fact, more. Initially there was only one of you; now there are ten! Your influence has spread. Power operates by division, influence by multiplication. With power, the more we share, the less we have. With influence, the more we share, the more we have. We must try to utilise our influence for the good.
My Hebrew name is Sarai Bella Bat Chaim. I am named after my paternal grandmother, Kitty Bella. She always put her family first and her kindness shone through. Sarah Imeinu led her life with a clear vision and purpose. She had the courage to follow her own convictions. She led her life as a role model for all women. We must seek truth in our world, and not be afraid to live according to those truths. And we must not be afraid to speak up when those truths are questioned. We must continue to change the world for the better.
I promise to treat everyone in the community with respect and kindness, to think of others and to be aware of their feelings, to create a positive and supportive environment where we have the freedom to act, think and be heard. I promise to make the most of the opportunities given with a positive and appreciative attitude and to treat all people fairly.
Thank you for listening, Shabbat Shalom and I look forward to sharing the rest of this special occasion with you!