It's almost 2 A.M. here in Israel, but I just wanted to quickly tell you about Tali's bat mitzvah.
It was great.
I was nervous about it for a variety of reasons. First of all, no one was able to come from America or Venezuela. I missed my parents so much today, and some of you who I usually would expect to be at my side for an event such as this.
But still, it was a milestone. Tali was beautiful, and it was just amazing to watch the joy she felt. She has made many new friends and I am so grateful that the kids here in Israel have embraced her.
And the Israeli cousins, aunts and uncles were there from both Isaac's and my side of the family. A friend came over to me and asked, "Why is Rav Chaim Sabato at Tali's bat mitzvah?" And I, very ignorantly said, "Who?". I was promptly informed that this man is an acclaimed novelist and author and is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maaleh Adumim. And this Rav is Isaac's cousin (okay by marriage, but still), and therefore he is MY cousin (okay, also through marriage, but still). It was an honor and privilege to have him at Tali's bat mitzvah. He signed a sefer that he has authored as a gift for Tali, and be'ezrat Hashem, some day she will read it and appreciate its significance.
I'm going to print Isaac's and my speeches from the bat mitzvah here. They were very short, as we don't believe in spending an hour and a half on speeches. (Had I known about Rav Sabato, we would have asked him to speak; sheesh, I'm really embarrassed about my ignorance.) If you would have been at the party and listened, these are for you. If you would have been chatting away, feel free to scroll down to the end.
Wish you all were there!
Tali, as I sat down to write this speech this afternoon, I remembered the time of your arrival to this world.
I recalled that just a few months before you were born we moved into our house in Cedarhurst. We were getting used to our new surroundings when one of the worst winters in history hit us. I still feel the pain in my back because of the amounts of snow that I had to shovel while your mother, very pregnant, claimed that she really would help me but she was SO sorry she couldn't.
[ed. note: Not true, I wasn't sorry at all.]
That winter we also had a very long visit from my aunt, who stayed with us for two months. I think it was your mother’s hormones that kept pushing her to ask me every hour when she was going home.
[ed. note: He's exaggerating, it wasn't every hour, it only was once a day. And anyway, I'd do the same thing today, and my hormonal levels are normal on most days.]
When the time came for your arrival, Abuelita and Oma came so they could be with Liat. And then one week before Purim you were born.
Tali, you have been a source of pride to me and mommy. You have an inquisitive mind and are always looking for answers. You always have a question; unfortunately I don’t always have the answer.
As we approach Purim I would like you learn a very important lesson from the Megillah. Purim is about the survival of the Jewish people. It reflects the hazards of life in the Galut. G-d’s name is not mentioned in the Megillah, but even though His Name is not mentioned, His Hand was there then and is here now…guiding us, and showing us the path we should take…
Tali, six months ago we made Aliya to the land of our fathers to let you and your sisters flourish in Jewish life “K’yehudim B’artzeinu”. You can count on us and on your friends to help you sort out this great new country and the new culture you begin to absorb.
To our friends in the old country you will always be missed until the day you decide to join us in Eretz Israel.
[ed. note: You can't imagine how intensely you were missed.]
To our new friends, thank you for being here with us tonight. Please enjoy the celebration of Tali’s becoming a Bat Mitzvah.
And, Tali—yes, you do have to fast tomorrow!!
Have an easy fast and a chag sameach.
Tali, you came into this world 12 years ago, exactly one week before Purim. That was a great Purim for me, because Abba took care of all the Mishloach Manot, while I got to stay upstairs in my room with you, claiming you were hungry. I don't think I answered the doorbell once that day.
They say a first child teaches you how to be a parent. So what does a second child teach you? You, Tali, have taught me much. You have taught me how to be a loyal sister. You have taught me how to treat friends. You have taught me, Tali, how to be caring and compassionate, and what it means to sometimes have to give something up so that someone else may benefit.
Abba and I are so proud of you Tali. We know this hasn't been an easy year for you. You had to say good-bye to some special people back in America and to start over again here in Israel. I watch and listen to you every day as you learn a new language, a new culture and a whole new way of doing things. I watch you with your new friends who have welcomed you with open arms, as you have embraced them. I watch your transition and think you have so much to be proud of. You have accomplished so much. You were given a challenge, and you rose to it. We are so fortunate and blessed to have you in our lives.
Tali, you always used to say, "Mommy, I have a question....". I don't know if you even realize this, but lately you've been saying, "Ima Yesh li Sheayla". Keep on asking those questions Tali, and eventually you'll find the answers.
May you continue to seek knowledge and rise to the challenges that life will bring you. We love you very much. Mazal Tov.
Wishing all of you an easy fast, a happy Purim, and the celebration of many, many Smachot in your lives.