The Adult B’nai Mitzvah Class held it’s group celebration during a festive service on December 15. We are going to post all the drashot of the students who feels comfortable to share their speeches with the public.
By Sharon Bleviss
What is my Jewish journey? And how did it get me to this moment? This Adult B’nai Mitzvah class began as a vision I had early on in my presidency of the shul, as I noticed that a large number of people had not had this experience, mostly because they were Jews by choice. I began a campaign to form a class with Rabbi Mark and Cantor Linda, and then recruited members. I joined the class myself, in solidarity I suppose. I had been raised in a family of four girls by Jewish parents—and I am honored to have my mother here today–who celebrated the High Holydays, Shabbat, Pesach and Hanukah. But we attended a conservadox shul where the girls were shunted off to Confirmation classes instead of Hebrew school and were denied the opportunity for a Bat Mitzvah. At UCLA, I chose to learn Hebrew by taking it as an elective class. And I eventually joined B’nai Emunah, which provided the bulk of my Jewish education.
Do you believe in coincidences? This Torah portion is that of my older sons, Adam and Aaron, who had their B’nai Mitzvah, lo, those nine years ago. And the Haftarah portion is that of my younger sons, Alex and Andrew, who reached that milestone four and a half years ago. Somehow, this is more than a simple coincidence. Beshert?
The Torah portion I have read details the interesting tale of Joseph putting his silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack, only to send out his overseer to overtake his brothers and accuse them of stealing, instructing him to say,
“Why have you repaid good with evil? Is not this the one my master drinks from? Why, he even divines with it! You have done evil by the way you have acted.”
This fascinating interplay between siblings, the struggle with trust and the resulting power play could symbolize many things…the scene in my house with five children, my work with dysfunctional children and their families, or my oft-conflicted battle with sacred text and ritual. How far should one go to determine that one is trustworthy? How far is too far? Can one truly forgive horrendous acts of deception? Is that rainbow really always out there?
Did I mention ‘struggle’? Two weeks ago, we read about Jacob wrestling with some creature, which could be a metaphor for life. Throughout these two years of study, I have struggled with the trope and the Hebrew and the text. We have dug deep into meaning, and sometimes have been asked to blindly consider tradition. I have grown close to my study buddies, and I thank them for all of their time, and have deeply appreciated the time that the rabbi and cantor have committed–probably far more than any of us anticipated. And I am equally appreciative of my husband and children (and all the people on MUNI), who have listened to me chanting Hebrew wherever I go–and often offer to get me back on key. And I thank all of my friends and family, those who were able to share this with me today—some from out of town– and those who could not, for their support. But throughout it all, I have worked toward making that missing piece–perhaps one that keeps shifting, even–that much smaller. As grown-ups, we generally avoid the things in life with which we struggle. This experience helped me to tackle, to wrestle with, some of those head-on, and with plenty of company. Indeed, this journey, this struggle, is quite personal.