I Wasn’t Ready for My Bat Mitzvah at 13.

My Bat Mitzvah was a hit. After the service, I was approached by relatives, friends, and congregation members wishing me mazel tov and telling me what a great job I had done. So poised! So insightful! So well-spoken! But here’s the thing—I wasn’t. 

I should mention that I had an untraditional bat mitzvah—my family belonged to a Humanistic Jewish congregation that aims to celebrate Jewish traditions, history, and values. The “cantor” adapts many of the old classics to focus on peace and love instead of god. The congregation doesn’t even own a Torah. And for this, I am grateful; it was wonderful to be part of the Jewish community in a way that was consistent with my family’s varying degrees of atheism.