We celebrated my daughter’s Simchat Bat on October 18, 2020 where she received her Hebrew name, Miriam, honoring strong women of her past. The ceremony was held virtually so family and friends could watch safely online during the pandemic. I read this letter to her during the ceremony.
Today we celebrate you and all that you are. With your Hebrew name, you join the Jewish people, past and present, and serve as a new beginning—a new story to be told. Your mother and I are so lucky to be with you for this chapter and, we pray, so many more ahead.
Your own story begins, perhaps, like none other before it. We welcome you into a world we wish were better. A world of challenges, oppression, upheaval, and even darkness that no parent would choose for their child. In your first few weeks on this Earth, we’ve held you tight and tried our best to set aside our worries.
But here’s where I find comfort:
As a Jew, you’ll be equipped with the values that have guided our people for thousands of years. Values that have helped generations leave this planet better than they found it. Values that I know will instill the same spirit of justice, equity and kindness that inspire us to repair the world, welcome the stranger and be a light in the dark.
As your dad, I promise to teach you these traditions too. You need not look any further than your own name or your own mother who fights for justice every day through her work professionally and personally. These things: truth, empathy, fairness, persistence, they all mean so much to us both. And as you build your own future, I promise to start you out with the strongest foundation possible. We’ll surround you with family, friends and communities who all hold these truths as well. You’ll grow up in a home with big hearts and open minds. We’ll teach you how to speak up, fight hard for what you believe in, seize opportunities—and always lift as you climb.
It may sound like a big job for a little person. But I have all the confidence in the world you can do it, just like Miriam and just like Mary before you. You’ve already shown us in our short time together, that you are calm, curious, steady and determined to do things your own way. You are hungry all the time—literally and figuratively. And, boy, are you sweet.
These gifts, plus the values we give you today will serve you well. I have no doubt you’ll put them all to good use.
Love you always,