The Parents’ Blessing from Our Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah

Our daughter was bat mitzvah’ed in December at Congregation Beth Am. The photo album (including photos from her excursion to make her own tallis). It was a lovely ceremony and a wonderful family celebration.

The temple expected us to give a parental blessing to Dina. Our son was bar mitzvah’ed at a different temple which didn’t have that tradition, so it was a new experience for us. The temple provided some samples of other parents’ blessings, and there are many examples online, but none of them were quite right for us. So we made our own:

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LISA: The Rabbi told us that the measure of parents’ love is directly correlated to how long they make their child stand in front of an audience and awkwardly listen to their parents. So, everyone take a big stretch and get comfortable, this is going to take a while. [stretch]

ERIC: The Talmud urges each of us to recite 100 blessings per day. So between the two of us, Dina, 200 blessings are coming your way right now.

LISA: Just kidding. The Rabbi keeps a cane back here to yank long-winded parents off the bima, so we’ll keep this short.

ERIC: [clears throat] Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shim’on said, “Parents are responsible for their child until the age of thirteen. Afterwards they must say: ‘Baruch she-patarani me-onshah shel zot,’ which means “Bless the One Who has freed me from responsibility for our daughter.” So, I guess, our blessing to you, Dina, is good luck.

LISA: Not so fast, Eric. Rabbi Heath here says we have to provide at least one unsarcastic parental blessing today before we’re off the hook.

ERIC: OK, let’s see what we can do. Dina, for most of your life, you’ve been a student. Today marks a key transition for you, from student to teacher. Today, you taught us about the Torah and its meaning. As a Jewish adult and community member, increasingly you will spend more time teaching all of us. You see the world with your unique perspective, and it constantly amazes and inspires us. We have so much to learn from you.

LISA: You already have all the intrinsic tools you need – kindness, thoughtfulness, intelligence, creativity. The challenges our family has faced in the last 5 years have given you a jump start on building some of those tools. You, more than many, and similar to Joseph in your parsha this week, have learned that life is fragile, and that compassion and forgiveness towards others is almost always worthwhile. As you gain knowledge and experience, your main task will be figuring out the ways in which you want to contribute to the world.

ERIC: And when you decide where you want to direct your time and talents, we hope you will believe in yourself as much as all of us believe in you. As Vincent van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

LISA: May you be blessed with wisdom, happiness, peace (and perhaps a little bit more motivation to put away your laundry). As you forge your way as a Jewish adult in our imperfect, but still beautiful, world, may you always know how very proud of you we are and how very much we love you.