Imagine that you are an almost 12-year-old girl anticipating the most important celebration of your life thus far. You’ve learned, planned, prepared your speech, and are excited about your new dress and all the friends and relatives that are coming to celebrate your coming of age. And then, Hurricane Sandy strikes. Your home is flooded as well as those of your friends. Everyone has lost power and many are displaced from their homes. Families are in distress. The place where your bat mitzvah was supposed to take place is going to be unusable for weeks. The caterer’s kitchen has no electricity. The streets are dark and piled high with debris. People have moved to grandparents’ homes, other neighborhoods, seeking light and warmth. How disappointed are you? You know that it may take weeks to reschedule your simcha.
School is closed for days. Your simcha is postponed, without a definite date for the reschedule. Your attitude is good, but it’s a big disappointment. Then when you come back to school, just before lunch, one of your teachers asks you to speak to her before lunch. You think nothing of it. You know you’re not in trouble or anything. But you are eager to get into the lunchroom, eat your food, and spend casual time with your friends. The teacher finishes and takes you back to the assembly room behind the lunchroom, because that’s where your classmates are eating. You walk in–there are helium balloons everywhere. The room is transformed with tables of dessert and candy. There’s dance music playing. Your friends shout “surprise,” and your substitute bat mitzvah celebration is underway!
What a beautiful celebration it was. The classmates and many faculty members joined into the dancing. The bat mitzvah girl was raised up on a chair. Smiles were everywhere. The Shulamith Women’s Organization and several teachers had arranged the music, food, balloons, tables, and decorations–everything to make the bat mitzvah girl feel like a million dollars. Short divrei Torah from the principals were given as a berachah and a charge to the star of the show and all her classmates. A wonderful time was had by all. And one young lady whose special day had been another victim of Hurricane Sandy was all smiles as she celebrated her bat mitzvah simcha amidst her friends and teachers, as a result of the caring and generosity of some very thoughtful people. Just another human interest story that highlights the chesed and solidarity that emerged from the aftermath of the storm here in the Five Towns.