My Bar Mitzvah Mitzvah - Aidan Wittels

Hello. My name is Aidan Wittels and I will be doing my Bar Mitzvah on the 3rd of May 2014. I had to prepare for this by attending lessons for nearly a year with Hayley and Netanya who I hope will like the end result. Rabbi Greg also worked with me for about 6 very interesting sessions. My portion is very short but not so sweet as it deals with the “eye for an eye” expression which I now understand better. Basically it’s what the punishment should be for a “crime”. In the old days Blasphemy was so serious you would have been stoned to death. Today, I think you will certainly be shunned if you do this often enough and in some circles you may even face some sort of punishment. We try our best not to take H@shems name in vain. So we must be careful to avoid offending our own religious beliefs but also try to be respectful to those around us of their religions in case we offend them. My Haftorah deals with the way the Cohanim, the Jewish Priesthood of the old days, had to dress, that they could not be disabled to carry the title of Priest and I learnt about the rules they live by. Quite outdated by today’s standards, but standards are a good thing to have. A lot of customs and traditions have been upheld through the ages for example The Cohanim today leave the cemetery prayer area though a special door, different to the rest of the congregation and often don’t come to the grave side. I respect those that uphold these old traditions today. As a progressive Jew, I enjoy that coming to shul is an equal experience for all of us, no matter what order we stem from or whether we are male or female. I must say that tackling this big event in my life has been hard work and I thank my parents for giving me a push now and then when I needed it as I am a week away from finally doing my barmi and feeling confident yet a little nervous. My Mitzvah Projects: Our school’s and many other schools’ pupils had to get new text books as the new CAPS syllabus is a little different but the information in the books are similar. I heard through my mom’s work about a school in the country that needed a new printer as they had to print out everything that the children had to be taught. It’s a school that isn’t sponsored by the Government as they have a different (holistic) approach to education and have very few children per grade. They have a total of 60 families in the school and only 20 can afford to pay the school fees. The school relies on donations of time by retired teachers and skills of people who can fix their computers and so on. I asked my school, Herzlia, if I could use some of the old school books that Herzlia parents returned to donate to this school in the country near Stellenbosch, called Mountview. Ms Kohler at Herzlia agreed and we managed to donate a car boot full of books. I think each child in that school will now have access to an Atlas - at the same time! They also have other important books needed for Maths and other subjects. I also donated some toys to a local crèche which works mostly with underprivileged cash strapped families. It’s called Little People’s Den, some children are from very poor homes. I helped my parents do a clear out at home and donated books to the Hospice Shop up the road from where I live. Thanks again for all the help and inspiration. Aidan

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