Every Jew has the right to be brought to Torah. Our children can be brought to Torah when they are 13. Some choose to wait till later in life. Some may not be given the opportunity when they are younger and choose to come to Torah later in life. But no matter when, every Jew has the right to be brought to Torah no matter one’s ability. It is all in one’s heart.
Moorea is one whose heart was so moved and whose parents wanted more than anything to bring their daughter to Torah. However, Moorea has semi-lobar holoprosencephaly, and no one ever thought it would be possible for her to become Bat Mitzvah. But when her parents, Evelyn and Andrew approached me asking if Moorea could become Bat Mitzvah and be brought to Torah, there was never any doubt, of course she can!
She does not have the ability to speak and her parents are two of the few who understand her. Her eyes sparkle when you sing to her and like any other teenager, she can get frustrated when something does not go her way. She needs 24/7 care and her parents are truly angels who love this beautiful gift God gave them unconditionally.
Family and friends gathered at Moorea’s home for a festive celebration. Many had no idea what to expect or even know what becoming Bat Mitzvah meant. But everyone knew that this was going to be a very significant moment for Moorea and her family.
Moorea spends much of her time confined to her wheel chair or bed. However, her parents invested in a “stander” that with the help of a sturdy structure and straps to keep her steady, Moorea can stand tall for about 30 minutes. After getting her dressed in a beautiful red dress for the occasion, setting the house for the celebration, and ensuring everyone was there, Moorea was secured into the stander and brought outside to the backyard. A sanctuary can be anywhere one seeks God.
Everyone ahh’d as Moorea came forward, we don’t get to see her standing very often. Her brother, Jules, also grinned from ear to ear and searched for the perfect vantage point to see what would happen next. Moorea’s grandmother presented Moorea with her tallit and wrapped it gently around her shoulders. Cantor Reinwald welcomed us all together in singing and together we entered a holy moment.
Moorea’s stander has a small table, just enough for me to balance the Torah so it could be right in front of her. Her parents held her arms and together they chanted the blessing on her behalf, Cantor chanted the portion and the entire honor of Aliyah l’Torah belonged to Moorea, we had just become her agents.
As Moorea stared down at the Torah you could see the look of amazement. She truly understood this moment. The look in her eyes was undeniable; she loved Torah. Her father spoke to her and she smiled widely feeling his loving blessing. Her mother spoke words of love and gratitude and a tear went down Moorea’s cheek. If anyone ever doubted if Moorea would understand the significance of this moment, it quickly dissipated as she soaked up each blessing and every moment.
We were all in the presence of God and witnessing one of God’s miracles, a young woman became a Bat Mitzvah and she blessed us.