It's been a very long time since I've written - not for lack of developments with Praying with Lior, but for various personal ones - I got married, moved to Philadelphia, and had a child in the last year and a half. There are a lot of wonderful things about each, but an additional bonus is getting to see more of Lior.
Lior is 19 1/2 now, and itching to be grown up. His parents are looking into various academic and residential opportunities for him post-high school. And he is finishing up school, participating in Special Olympics and synagogue youth group, and thinking about the moving on. One of the markers of his "graduating" from childhood was his synagogue confirmation. In many synagogues, confirmation signifies the end of formal Jewish education. Only two young adults in Lior's synagogue, Mishkan Shalom, elected to study for confirmation classes this year, and Lior was one. Once again, he stood at the pulpit of his shul, and addressed the community. His speech echoed the one we heard at his Bar Mitzvah, but it has a fresh maturity. Here's the text, followed by images of Lior winning the Grand Prixe at the International Disability Film Festival in Moscow.
Shabbat Shalom, I am very happy to be here today.
I am happy that I get to be confirmed. Being Jewish is important to me because that is the way I stay connected to God. Davening is the way I stay connected to God. As I said at my bar mitzvah, I love davening because I feel happy and excited. It makes a difference to pray because I feel different when I talk to God. When I do not talk to God I feel lonely. If I talk to God, I feel happy and I can enjoy myself. Sometimes I use words from the prayer book. Other times I use my own words. There are so many things to be grateful for. I am thankful for my family and for the things I have in my life.
I enjoy the holidays because we get to celebrate and to sing a lot. I especially like Sukkoth because of eating in the sukkah and the celebration of Simhat Torah.
I am happy to be at Mishkan, I like being in the Teen Group because we get to have good discussions, do activities, projects and get to go on retreat at Camp JRF. This is my fifth year being in the Food for Thought class, I love cooking and Gabbi’s recipes.
I love the singing at Mishkan. I feel very comfortable here. This is my community, my shul. I feel that people at Mishkan like having me here. I am happy that I became an official member of Mishkan on the day of my Bar Mitzvah. I am just so happy that I feel loved here.
I want to thank Gabbi for the teen group and food for thought class. I want to thank Rabbi Linda for the Teen leadership seminar and for helping me to prepare the service.
This week is the parsha of bersheit. It is the parsha about the creation of the world. We learn that everyone is created in God’s image. That makes everybody equal -- even if we have different beliefs. There are different religions. There are Jews, Christians Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others. Muslims, for example, celebrate Ramadan. Christians celebrate Christmas. Jews celebrate our own holidays. We can appreciate each other’s holidays. My family even went with Buddhists to celebrate the Dali Lama’s birthday when we were in India. We have different beliefs and religions, and we are all equal. We can all speak to God in different ways.
Everybody is created in God’s image. Each person has different abilities and talents that we offer the world. We each have our own blessings that we bring to the community. I bring to Mishkan my love, drumming, enthusiasm for davening . talking to people and being friendly. I hope to bring these to Mishkan for many more years.