How quickly they grew up: they’re blossoming right before our eyes. With clarity and sometimes surprise, we begin to see the kind of adult they are becoming.
While age automatically classifies a Jewish child as an adult for ritual purposes, we honor this sacred benchmark by calling the young adult up to Torah and celebrating this “coming of age.” This moment has been a birthright for centuries of Jewish boys. At long last, Jewish girls and nonbinary and transgender Jews are fully claiming their rightful places in the flow of Jewish life.
With awe and pride, we celebrate all their becoming, all their learning, and all their leadership in the world they step forward to shape as their own.
There is a blessing in our tradition said as part of maturation and individuation. The Baruch She’ptarani blessings, said by parents, formally releases the obligation of children from the responsibility of parents. This blessing is said as part of the bar mitzvah, or in the case of daughters, at the wedding, in traditional settings. The blessing gives voice to the transition of formal responsibility from parent to the maturing child.
‘Blessed is He who has now freed me from the responsibility of this boy’” Genesis Rabbah 63:10
In a modern context, we can understand this prayer as an evolution, the empowerment of a child and release from the expectations of the parent. Perhaps this 20th century poet’s words better reflect our sensibilities today. “Protect my children from my secret wish to make them over in my image and illusions. Let them move to the music that they love dissonant perhaps to me.” Ezekiel Nissim
May you live to see a world that you create.
May your future shine in ways we can scarcely imagine.
May your hope span the generations.
May your heart learn understanding.
May you speak words of wisdom and sing songs of joy.
May your vision be clear before you.
May your eyes shine with the light of wise teachings,
May your face glow with the light of heaven,
May you run to discover the radiance of the Holy Blessed One.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
We wish for you to be a person of character
Strong, but not tough
Gentle, but not weak.
We wish for you to be righteous, but not self-righteous
Honest, but not unforgiving.
Wherever your journey,
May your steps be firm and may you walk in just paths and not be afraid.
Whenever you speak, may your words be words of wisdom and friendship.
May your hands build and your heart preserve what is good and beautiful in the world.
May the voices of the generations of our people move through you
And may the God of our ancestors be your God as well.
May you know that there is a people, a rich heritage, to which you belong.
And from that sacred place, you are connected to all who dwell on earth.
May the stories of our people be upon your heart,
And may the grace of the Torah rhythm dance in your soul.
This is the day that God has made — let us exult and rejoice on it.