About the prompt: We asked each Peer Ambassador to share with us a pivotal moment in their Jewish journey, what being a Peer Ambassador means to them personally, and what value speaks to them. Stay tuned over the next month to hear from all of the Peer Ambassadors.
Check out Zachary's blog post below as he shares about his Bar Mitzvah, which was a pivotal moment in his Jewish journey.
On August 30, 2019, I had my בר מצווה (Bar Mitzvah) at Congregation Or Shalom in Vernon Hills, Illinois. This was the day that I had been preparing for for over a year and had been dreaming about since my Jewish education began. My Torah portion was Re’Eh, which ironically is my older brother’s Hebrew middle name and the Torah portion we have framed on the wall in my house. This portion was about the process of decision making and how doing certain things can lead you down different paths in life. For my Bar Mitzvah, I decided to partner with Guitars over Guns, a non-profit organization that offers students from the most vulnerable communities a powerful combination of music education and mentorship with professional musicians to help them overcome hardship, find their voice and reach their potential as tomorrow’s leaders.
My Bar Mitzvah party was themed around music and guitars, as that was and still is one of my biggest passions. Another theme that was mentioned more in my actual Bar Mitzvah service was equality and how I believe that everyone should be given the same, equal opportunities to be successful and have a good, happy life. In my D’Var Torah, I talked about this with my congregation and friends as it is something I firmly believe in. I also mentioned why I chose to partner with Guitars over Guns, and so much more. All in all, this experience is one of the most important ones to me that has definitely helped in a major way to shape the person I am today.
About the Author: Zachary is a sophomore at Vernon Hills High School, who is a member of Congregation Or Shalom. He’s passionate about basketball, singing, playing guitar and more. He has been involved with NFTY and other Jewish programs for quite a while. As Peer Ambassador, he is excited to make new friends and help create fun events for people to meet each other. Zachary has also been a camper at OSRUI for 7 years now and has become very involved with his Judaism.