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A Bat Mitzvah Brings Hope and Healing

Meredith Polsky

Written by Rabbi Jerry LevySydni

On Shabbat Behar, May 10, 2014, my family and I were privileged to celebrate the bat mitzvah of my granddaughter, Sydni Elyse Levy. Here is a video of the occasion.

As a rabbi, I’ve prepared hundreds of students for their bar/bat mitzvah services. But never – until my own granddaughter’s bat mitzvah – have I had the awesome opportunity of working with a student with special needs and helping her to feel welcome in the Jewish community. Matan was there for us from the very beginning of the process. Orlee Krass was especially helpful in sharing websites, blogs and outstanding educational materials.

The video does not show… because it cannot… what a healing moment this was for our family. A number of years ago, I came out of the closet. The results – for my family, my community and myself – were difficult, to say the least. But it was my ex-wife who approached my son David a year and a half ago and suggested that I be enlisted to prepare his daughter – our granddaughter – for her bat mitzvah.

The video also does not show… because it cannot… how my consciousness has been raised to the requirement that all Jewish children be welcomed into our communities with joy. Our children’s self-esteem will increase immeasurably by our words and gestures of welcome, but so will ours!

If you’d like to see the siddur that – with the help of Matan – I edited for Sydni’s bat mitzvah, please contact me at and I’ll be glad to email you a copy.

Sydni at Torah


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