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Rachel Kirsch - Dvar Torah

Important Matriarchs

My Torah portion is Chayei Sara. It comes from the book of Genesis and it is about the death of Sara. Sara was the wife of Avraham. She was buried in Hebron, which is where my great grandfather, Avraham Franco, was born and raised.

Something that I find interesting about this portion is that the name “Chayei Sara” means “the life of Sara” although it is about her death. Which to me symbolises her legacy that she left behind.

Sara was kind and compassionate. G-d even says at one point that she was a better prophet than Avraham. When she was kidnapped she stayed strong. She was brave and courageous. All this being said we are told that she also mistreated one of her servants Hagar and eventually had her banished from the camp.

Sara, like all of us, made mistakes however this is not what defines us, what defines us is the good that we do and how we learn from our mistakes. This is something that I will keep in mind as I Bat Mitzvah.

Chayei Sara then moves on to talk about how, after Sara’s death, Avraham realises how fleeting life is and is concerned about the continuation of his family and the Jewish faith. Abraham decides that his son Isaac needs to marry and so he sends his most trusted servant to his homeland to find a wife for Issac. This is when we meet Rebecca for the first time.

The servant travelled to the city of Nahor. He waited with his camels by the water well outside the city, until the evening, when the women came to the well to draw water. The servant decided that he would ask for some water to drink and the woman who offers both him and his camels water will be the one he will choose for Isaac.

This was a test of compassion, kindness and selflessness; and it was Rebecca who passed this test with flying colours. She agreed to go with the servant. Isaac fell in love with Rebecca and married her; and as they say the rest is history!

As a strong, independant, young Jewish woman, I feel very honoured that the first two of the four matriarchs feature in my Torah portion. They are true role models and the characteristics of kindness, compassion and selflessness that both Sara and Rebekah displayed, are qualities that I try my best to uphold.

This Torah portion resonates well with me, because besides Sara and Rebecca, I am extremely privileged to have so many wonderful female role models in my life. Sorry Dad!

I have my Oumie, Beverley, who is always willing to make me my favourite food, Matzah-ball soup. Oumie, you are so kind and amazing; even though we don’t always agree on our taste in music!

Then there is my aunt Martine who is just the coolest, most awesome aunt a girl could ask for. Josie and I just love hanging out with you.

Next is Daphne Hirschberg, who is like a ‘second grandmother’ to me. Daphne you are so kind and supportive; and I love all the pictures of Pepper (the dog) that you send me.

Then of course there is the lady who I like to call my “second mother” , Lorraine also known as “Lolo” . You are the most incredible woman. Thank you so much for everything and especially for always giving me “upies” when I was little!

To my great aunt Linda, my aunt Tanya, my ‘almost’ aunt Tara and my cousin Laura, you have all been so kind, supportive and caring especially over the last year while I’ve been undergoing chemo treatment.

Then to the “Dream team”, Dr Andrade, Sister Helen and Sister Barbs, you guys are such inspirations. You are all such special, phenomenal, selfless women, who I owe my life to.

And then there is my absolute favourite teacher, Mrs Segal. You are so kind and always there for me, I am truly honoured to be your student.

More recently, I have gotten to know Vanessa, who has been preparing me for my Batmitzvah. Vanessa, thank you so much, you have been so kind and encouraging - you must really have the patience of a saint!

To my Mom, you are the best. I always feel comforted knowing that your love for Josie and me is unconditional; and that you would go to the ends of the earth to make sure that we are okay. You have set a wonderful example for us of how one can be both a hard-working, modern-day woman and a mother who is always there for her children.

Then last but certainly not least is my older sister Josie. Josie you are not just the best sister a girl could ask for, but you are also my best friend. Since we were little you have always looked out for me and often put my interests ahead of your own. You are so incredibly kind and caring, you are my role model and I really, really love you.

Thank you so much to all these wonderful women. You all mean so much to me, you are magnificent role-models and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Finally, to Rabbi Malcolm, thank you very much for all your support and compassion over the last while; and thank you so much for your instruction and guidance with my Batmitzvah preparation.

Oh, and by the way, Dad, you’re not that bad and you have a very special place in my heart.


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