Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Rebecca Morgenthaler on Rosh Hodesh Kislev

As many of you know, I love cheerleading.  A couple of years ago, my friends invited me to go to a cheerleading competition, and when I saw what they did I really liked it. I loved it all: the tumbling, the jumps, the stunts…everything.

A few months later, I signed up for a team.  Within a week, I was flying through the tumbling and jumps, loving every minute.

It might sound funny, but cheering makes me feel more…well… cheerful.  Just the way being around Jewish activities makes me happy – I’ve been going to lots of them since I was very young.

Everything was coming together this year.  It couldn’t have been going better.  My bat mitzvah, my cheering… and then, in August, it all came tumbling down

I was at cheer camp and on the very first day, my elbow felt weird.  We went to the hospital and I found out that I would need surgery before I could cheer again.

I felt very disappointed.  My most cheerful outlet was being taken from me right at the time when I was getting ready for my bat mitzvah.  And even worse, I was facing surgery and a long recovery period.  Things could not have been darker.

But I didn’t let it get me down.  At camp, I couldn’t cheer, but I could help the others.  I videotaped all the kids from my gym as they tumbled.  I did all the non cheering activities like arts and crafts.  I still had lots of fun with my friends, even though I was hurt.

So…. you must be wondering, what does all this have to do with being Jewish? 


Being Jewish is all about being able to recover from setbacks and being able to push on, without giving in to despair.  You can’t let the darkness win out.

The same is true about Rosh Hodesh, the holiday that marks the beginning of the new month.  The message of this holiday is that even when the sky is dark and there is no visible moon, we can trust that the light of the moon will soon reappear. It always does.

And all the more so this month, because today is Rosh Hodesh Kislev, and Kislev is the month of Hanukkah.  Yes, that’s right, Hanukkah is only 25 days away – right on Thanksgiving.  So don’t forget. It’s time to start shopping for Hanukkah gifts for your kids.  But even more than gift giving, Hanukkah is all about defeating the darkness and adding more light.  As I become bat mitzvah, I hope that I will be able to bring just a little more light – and a LOT more cheer, to the world.

My mitzvah project will, I hope, bring even more light to the world.  I’ve been making rainbow loom bracelets and am selling them to raise money for A.L.S. in memory of grandmother, who died of A.L.S. five years ago. 

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