Friday, April 15, 2016
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Ava Sabloff on Tazria and Shabbat Ha-Hodesh
Happy New Year … not really, but in the Torah, this month was considered the first month – the New Year. And today is the first day of that first month. Not only that, but this month is called the month of Aviv (which means spring)– and my Hebrew name is Aviva – so I have a special connection to this new month right there.
But there’s another special connection. Rosh Chodesh, the celebration of the new month, is considered a woman’s holiday. And today I am a woman!
Even my portion is connected to women, though not in the most pleasant way. It talks about childbirth, which was, in the old days, seen as a very mysterious thing – I guess it still is. On some level it’s about what makes women so special and so important.
So I would like to take a few moments to talk about some important female role models for me, that is, aside from my mom and grandmothers, of course, who are very important.
With Passover coming up, there’s Miriam, who was Moses’s sister. A couple of years ago, I wrote a script about the exodus for our Seder and I played the role of Miriam. Malkam was Moses and Oliver was Pharaoh. That sounds about right. Miriam was a great musician – and I like music too, and she cared about her brothers, Aaron and Moses – and so do I!
In school last month, I did a report on Maya Angelou, the great poet who died not long ago. She survived racial discrimination, single motherhood, and despite that, she was able to become a successful artist and activist. In fact, she was the first female African American to write a bestseller and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Last fall, I heard a speech given here by Anat Hoffman, a crusader for equal rights for women (and others) in Israel. She was behind the recent agreement for a new section at the Western Wall where women and men can pray together, as equals. I really hope she gets those benches she wanted!
My next role model isn’t a woman yet. Aine just turned ten and she’s here today because, her family is basically my family. I think she is a role model because, she lives her life with cystic fibrosis. She takes a lot of medication, everyday. She has to wake up earlier than her 8th grade sister, to do treatments and then, have even more treatments in the evening. She is more in touch with her health than other children her age, which shows how mature she has become. If you met her and, some of you already have, you can’t tell. She is always smiling and participates in more sports than I do. Cystic Fibrosis affects a tiny amount of the population, and because of this, research and treatment options are funded by the families and friends directly impacted. Help me in finding a cure by, following the link in my booklet to the Aine’s Angels website and donating money to the fundraising walk. I will be walking and you are welcome to join me. It is Sunday, May 22, and there’s more info on the website.
My final female role model is… me! At Oliver’s bar mitzvah he spoke about how he couldn’t be President because he was born in Canada. But I was born here! I was even named right here on this bima! So I could be president. And while this year we are seeing what could be the first female president, Hillary or the first Jewish president, Bernie or the first Canadian president, Ted. I could be the first-ever female Jewish President - - with Canadian roots!
But I have no desire to be president. I just want to be an actress. Or a singer. Or a director...Really I just wanna be in show business. You might have thought that I would pick a character I’ve played but, Wednesday Addams and Captain Hook aren’t the best role models.
As I become a woman, on this holiday for women, I know I am walking in the footsteps of not only the women before me, but I also hope to be a role model to those who will come after me. But as I pay tribute to all these women, I can’t forget the most important woman in my life, my mom, who by the way also became bat mitzvah right here. She had to put up with my yelling about practicing but, nevertheless she stood by me, encouraging me, helping me, supporting me. I LOVE YOU MOM! Dad, you’re OK too…