On April 28th, 2012, I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah. My friends celebrated my Bat Mitzvah. To many of them, that is all that it was…a celebration and a chance to put on heels and dance to the latest One Direction song. I have come to realize though, that many of these people did not even know what they were in fact celebrating, or they just think of it as a Jewish girl’s thirteenth birthday party.
The fact is, my Bat Mitzvah was a lot more. For as long as I’ve gone to regular school, I have gone to Hebrew school. My Bat Mitzvah was a ceremony in which I showed my community, friends, and family all that I have learned in those 8 years of Hebrew School. I put an immense amount of effort into memorizing my torah portion, and learning the meaning behind it and how it applied to my life. I also took part in a “Hesed Project,” which is an important element of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah that has the student get involved in the community and provide service to organizations of his/her choice.
To this day people still sometimes bring up memories from the party. However, I could probably count on one hand how many times someone has mentioned anything in regards to the service I led earlier that day. While I’m sure none of my friends are choosing to ignore the more spiritual aspect of that day, this lack of knowledge seems to create misconception between people based on their beliefs, or disbeliefs.
Nobody is stereotyping me by only remembering my party, but at the same time I feel change is needed in our current culture, as Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are becoming more and more associated with sweet sixteens. They are an extremely important part of the Jewish faith, marking the entrance into the world of either a Jewish man or women.
Stereotypes often involve a misunderstanding of the meaning of tradition, in this case causing people to miss the fact that something they think is just superficial fun has a profound purpose.