The following is a D’Var Torah written by one of our rising 8th grade campers, Jade, for her Bat Mitzvah.  We wanted to share her wise words with our camp community.  Enjoy!

My Torah portion takes place as the Jews are entering Israel.
God warns the Israelites that they will be miserable and cursed
unless they adopt God’s commandments, as well as choose to
follow many other laws spelled out in the Torah, like keeping
kosher, how to worship, and how to care for others.

When I think about what it must have been like for the Jews to start a brand new life in a brand place, and survive as a
community, I asked myself what would be the most important
things to help the Israelites start their lives in Israel. If I were God (that’s probably not too hard for you to imagine), the
commandment I would want all to observe is for everyone to treat others the way they want to be treated.

This isn’t impossible…and I have proof. I go to a Jewish overnight camp called Camp Louise. When I am at camp, I am surrounded by kindness. Everyone is nice, (you would have to look very hard to find anyone gossiping or talking behind your back)… the nurses are so caring they act and feel like my parents…when people are homesick, everyone around you goes out of their way to comfort you…and the counselors and leaders are always there to make sure everyone is treated with respect. Why can’t the world be one big Camp Louise??

And there are other examples. Hospitals are filled with caring people that treat others the way they want to be treated. Charity programs and foundations are organized and run by good people volunteering to help others that should be treated better. For my mitzvah project, I am volunteering to help I Run For Food, which
is a 5K race organized to feed less fortunate people. Everyone involved is helping others the way they would want to be helped…from the runners to the organizers, to the local restaurants, to kids like me helping to recruit runners for the event. So if you feel like exercising one of God’s commandments, register to run or walk on June 5th.

Just think about how things would be different if people observed
this commandment in their daily lives? There would be no bullies to worry about in school or online. Our
groups of friends, often called “squads” or “possies”, would include everyone and wouldn’t make anyone feel left out. Governments would get more done if one political party put themselves in the other party’s shoes! Drivers wouldn’t cut other people off, and road rage wouldn’t exist. Just think about when you go out to eat, how much your restaurant experience depends on how your waitress treats you. In my world, everyone would have a nice waitress.

On a more serious note, if everyone practiced this, maybe terrorism wouldn’t exist…maybe 9/11 wouldn’t have happened? I know I’m oversimplifying things, but if leaders of countries and religious groups would focus on how to make things better for everyone instead of making things worse for others, the world
would obviously be a better place. Maybe all the world leaders should go to Camp Louise to see what that would be like.

So why don’t people observe this important and common-sense commandment? I know it’s not that easy to ask everyone to do this. Bullies at some point were treated badly by someone in their life and then take it out on others. Countries and religions feel that others have persecuted them and that’s how they justify killing
and squashing them.

But you have to start somewhere. You have to change things one step at a time. If people put themselves in each other’s shoes, they might not cut them off on the bypass, laugh at them at school, insult their political beliefs, or even make fun of how they dress. And if we all started doing this, I think we would fight less, governments would get more done, and I bet we would find that all of us are much more alike than we think.

I am thrilled to say I do not have to study tomorrow my Torah portion. But, I look forward to continuing my Jewish education here at Shir Ami through confirmation and learning more about Judaism. This is not hard for me to do or say. I actually love Hebrew School…and do not want it to end. I would like to thank so many people that helped me make this day possible.

Even though Rabbi Simon is not here to witness this. I would not be standing here on the Bima without the support, patience and good teachings he gave me. Thank you Rabbi Goldberg for leading me with my Bat Mitzvah service and helping me with my torah portion. Cantor Elson who helped with my rehearsals.
Uncle Scott for helping me write my D’var Torah. Emily thanks for the beautiful music at todays service.
Madison thanks for helping me practice my Hebrew and for sharing this amazing achievement in life with me.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my Mom and Dad for all of their love and support. My Mom is the kind of mom every girl wishes she had. She’s my mom, my teacher, my advisor, my biggest cheerleader, and my best friend, all rolled into one. My dad adds humour, and fun to my life. He is the most dependable person, a good provider and always has my back. I also appreciate my dad being so supportive and open to the Jewish world.

Lastly, thank you all for sharing this special day with me.
Mazel tov and Shabbat shalom to you all!

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