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    They want a Bat-Mitzvah – Emor

    A Bat-Mitzvah at Sydney's Great Synagogue

    This Shabbat, when we read the detailed rules that shape the high days and holy days of the year, it is relevant to quote a former rabbinical colleague of mine who used to muse aloud, “The Jews want to be gentiles and the gentiles want to be Jews!”.

    I am sure that what he meant was that while there were Jews who wanted to discard the practices of Judaism, at the same time there were non-Jews who sought to take them on.

    It certainly is evident that some Jews would prefer to put their Jewish identity behind them, not that that is easy – and some non-Jews either want to enter the Jewish fold or at least introduce Jewish ideas and ceremonies into their lives. An example is the many non-Jews who are fascinated by the Pesach Seder, by Chanukah observances, by Rosh HaShanah or by countless other practices, and try to experience them for themselves. A new example is the non-Jewish girls who say they would like to have a Bat-Mitzvah and the boys who want a Bar-Mitzvah.

    Clearly, people need rituals and ceremonies, especially to mark life-cycle events. This is something Jews are particularly good at. We are also particularly good at uniting home and synagogue and ensuring that Jewish life is not limited to the house of worship but encompasses the home and the family.

    No wonder the Midrash talks of someone who wandered all over the world to find treasure and finally discovered that there was treasure in his own garden.

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