All of us at Beth Tzedec are So excited that the Netflix and Happy Madison film, You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah, is now available for viewing. Many scenes in the movie were filmed in Beth Tzedec in the Summer of 2022 and included members of the community as background actors.
One of the main plotlines of the film is about an emerging Jewish adult – but still only a 13-year-old – pushing against rules and boundaries set by their parents and other influential adults in their lives. On the one hand, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah signifies reaching Jewish adulthood with all the privileges and responsibilities that entails; on the other hand, certainly, in 21st-century Western society, a 12 or 13-year-old is nowhere close to adulthood in the broader sense. If anything, we are seeing markers of adulthood emerge later and later in young people’s lives.
This week’s Torah reading, Ki Teitzei, contains the largest number of Mitzvot (Jewish laws) of any individual Torah portion. The Israelite people are about to enter the Land of Israel and begin to conquer and settle it. They are on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged nation complete with their own territory – an adult nation if you will. And yet, God and Moses take this moment to share many, many, many new rules and laws with them that will frame how they will live their life. It’s as if God and Moses know that the people still need a lot of guidance and handholding through this next stage, even though they are turning the page into a more mature state of being.
Laws, rules, and guidance sometimes seem restrictive and even punitive; however, they are almost always meant to help us, to give us a framework and reference point for difficult decisions and challenging moments. Whether you are a 13-year-old teen or a 1,300 x 3-year-old people, guiding principles and individual guides only serve to benefit us.