Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class of 2014: David Tarica, “Land of refuge/Judaism/prayer as a refuge””

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By now you realized that our section of the Torah reading is about:
1. The Book of Numbers and
2. The Jews traveling out of Egypt to Israel and the Promise Land.
3. A Journey that took over 40 years and the creation of cities of refuge for both citizens and non-citizens, and the accused of unintentional crimes.

Never before have I felt like a wondering Jew making camps and breaking camps just to get to the next campsite. The last time I did so much camping was in the Boy Scouts about 40 years!

(But, seriously,) this is about our Journey, we each take in studying the Torah and preparing for our B’Nai Mitzvah. For me it’s been a Journey to:
1. Reacquaint myself with the Jewish religion and traditions,
2. Learning to read Hebrew (and I’m still trying),
3. Understanding what the Torah is and how it applies to our daily lives and
4. Being part of a wonderful Jewish community and congregation

In 2001 my father past away, and he was my connection with the Jewish community. My sister and I would spend Jewish holidays with my father and his brothers and sisters attending the Sephardic temple on Wilshire Blvd, and having holiday dinners together. We were one big family and could discuss all issues without being judged. It was our sanctuary and our family of refuge.

Reacquainting myself with Jewish religion and traditions — has brought back that feeling of sanctuary and refuge. It’s a feeling you get when you are in a safe place, and taking part in a community that cares and looks after you. Our Class of 13 with our wonderful teachers (Rabbi Heather, Rabbi Lisa and Cantor Juval) have been practicing, studying and supporting each other in this exciting B’Nai Mitzvah experience.

Studying for our B’Nai Mitzvah has become my journey to understanding Judaism and how it relates to my present life. It’s been about applying these Jewish laws to everyday life, and how the Torah & Talmud is a living, breathing document like our U.S. Constitution which can adapt to our ever changing lives and society. The Torah is accepting of all people including unintentional criminals as we’ve all learned in the Book of Numbers.

You can pick up any LA Times daily, and see on the front page the issue of REFUGEES. Undocumented kids crossing our boarder and how we should resolve this issue before deportation. It’s become more than an issue about just bussing kids back and defending our borders. It’s now a humanitarian issue of how to treat people with respect and dignity, and our Torah can be applied to this present day situation.

My refuge is also obtained in Jewish prayer. I’ve never considered myself religious, but rather spiritual in nature; and prayer is my moment to speak to God from the heart. Prayer is my way to discover revelations, open up to God, take action and connect to my Jewish religion. It is my way of checking in with God and discussing what is really bothering me. I’m not emotional, but at these moments I would get choked up and sometimes cry. Prayer has been my direct connection to God.

Conclusion:
Studying the Torah for our B’Nai Mitzvah has been a meaningful experience in starting my journey and shaping my life in the coming years. The Torah is guidance in discussing both ethical and practical situations; and is a resource I will refer to the rest of my life. It’s the beginning to understanding what’s important to me in designing my future.
So, I would like to thankfully acknowledge God, and express our gratitude of life. Blesses God for keeping us alive to enjoy this special moment of B’Nai Mitzvah. Amen.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

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