Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Andrew Patashnik on Bereisheet

As a lot of you know, I am very interested in musical theater.   Two of my favorite roles really fit into one of the main themes of my portion.  It’s almost like it was destiny. Or better, beshert 

The first role was a few years ago in the All School Musical when I played Shrek during the first scene when he is a young ogre, who is thrown out of the house by his parents when he is seven years old.  The second role was more recent; I starred in the musical “The Addams Family” in what definitely was the funniest role, (and who else could handle it but yours truly).   Yes, I played cousin ITT.   Not that you could tell, since I was covered from head to toe with hair.   It was a tough role, having to be a thing, or I mean an “itt” (short break- short pause in between each phrase) An object, something that is looked down upon by society, something considered less than human. 

Today, I am neither an ogre nor a (short pause in between each furry and hairy) furry hairy imaginary creature. Today I am a man.  Today I am playing the most difficult role of my life, the role of a mature human being. …Welllll

My portion of Be’reshit contains the story of creation, including the creation of the first man and woman. When God creates Adam and Eve, God says ,”Let us make the human being in our image.”

The idea that people are created in God’s image is one of the most important Jewish values. When we look at another person, we are not looking at an object or an it.  Unless of course you are watching me play “Itt”.

The Hebrew expression is “Tzelem Elohim.” Being created in God’s image means three things:  First, that every person is unique.  Second, that everyone is equal, and the third thing, that every life is of infinite value.

I’ve learned this from my Mitzvah project.

Neighborhood Studios is a really great program that helps all kids, no matter what situation they may be in.  Some are from poor neighborhoods, others from broken homes, others have disabilities, and others may be gifted in an art and are going there for extra enrichment.  The amount of guidance and inspiration that Neighborhood Studios provides is truly amazing.

As soon as I walked into their facility in Bridgeport, I could immediately feel the good vibes. I started walking down the hallway and saw the beautiful paintings and sketches covering the walls.  I could hear the sounds of dancing feet in the room to my left, and I could hear joyful singing and musical instruments coming from the room to my right. I could tell that it was a really fantastic place to go. 

By the time I got to the second floor, seeing so many smiling faces made it impossible not to smile myself.   You can read more about it in my booklet and you’ll find a link to help me help Neighborhood Studios enhance what they can offer to kids.

From this project, I’ve learned that all kids, no matter what struggles they may have endured,  have something to offer. Some of them are extremely gifted.

And since each one of them is created in God’s image, they are all unique, they are equal to everyone else, and their lives of infinite value. 

So my message is this:  We should care for all people, no matter what. Even if they are… Yankee fans.  or maybe not.

                And even if they are creepy, kooky, and altogether spooky, they still deserve a place in this big bright beautiful world.


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