On Saturday, October 9th, 2021, Julianna and Chloe had their joint B’Not Mitzvah. They worked incredibly hard practicing and preparing and, not surprisingly (at least to my wife and me), were incredible. As part of their service, we wrote a blessing for them and then read it to them. This is that blessing…
Chloe and Julianna.
Here we are, at the beginning of the Jewish year and at the beginning of the next chapter of your lives. Both of us are incredibly proud of both of you. You have both worked so hard, for so long to prepare for this day. For months, we’ve had the pleasure of listening to muffled sounds of Torah portions and various prayer chantings coming through your bedroom doors. Today’s accomplishment, like so many before, is the result of the hardest work you can do: sharing yourselves with your community; your true selves.
Chloe. We’ve always described you as being more like a cat. You tend to be a little shy at first. You enjoy quiet time and have always been introspective. You like to warm up to new people and new environments and approach both with caution. You get where you need to go when you’re good and ready. You don’t trust easily but when someone earns it, it’s a bond for life. You have the best handwriting of anyone in our house. You have a very sharp and mischievous sense of humor. We’ve never met anyone who understood sarcasm as well as you did when you were a toddler.
Julianna. We’ve always described you as being more like a dog. You can’t wait to see who is at the door. You want to be first in line to greet people. You show unconditional love for everyone you meet, right from the start. You love a good hug and will steal a chicken finger off dad’s plate when you think he’s not looking. Your sense of humor has always been a bit unintentional.
While you both share being sensitive, compassionate, smart, creative, and funny, you both do so in completely different ways and that’s something that makes you so special and something that is so comforting for us, as parents. Even though you’re so close in age, that you’re similar in many ways and different in others shows that you’re both on your own individual paths. You never walk one behind the other but rather side-by-side. Side-by-side into our respective offices during work because you are apparently oblivious to the fact that we’re in a meeting.
Julianna, you were 3 months old when we found out that I was pregnant with another baby. We both had a moment of fear that we were taking your babyhood away from you. That fear was unfounded. It didn’t take long for us to see how close you both would become and how necessary you both are for each other. I don’t think you have any recollection of what life was like without having a sister. Seeing you both standing here together, leading together, and experiencing this together is a more incredible feeling than we could have possibly imagined. The bond that you share with each other is something that can never be broken. We know this because you both try; repeatedly.
Whether it was your first steps at Camp, with Dan, your first time riding a horse, your first time jumping in a pool, your first day going to Kindergarten, your first time trying out for the Volleyball team Julianna, your first time stepping up to the starting line and running in your first cross-country meet Chloe, your first time reading from the Torah, or any of the first times in between, you’ve always managed to get the job done. Those times, like every future first in life, are likely to bring challenges but your perseverance and your courage will continue to guide you through. You are both stronger and braver and more courageous than you recognize in yourselves but we see it. We know it’s in you. If you ever need a reminder of its presence, look to each other or look to anyone watching today. We all can use that reminder sometimes. Standing here today, leading this service, is further proof.
On your bedroom doors you each have a picture. One reads “Sisters by chance,” and the other reads “Friends by choice.” Dad and I are just lucky to have you as daughters. We are thankful that you both came along and completed our family. You teach us, every day, how to be better parents and how to be better people. Our best us is because of your best you.
For your whole life, I’ve been writing a blog about you both; about our experiences together – both the good and the bad – the things we’ve learned together, life, death, the challenges, and the triumphs. When I started writing it, I knew that some day you’d read it. I hope that day is soon.
We hope what you read there is a reflection of what you ideally see when you look in the mirror: Two beautiful people, both inside and out, on a life-long journey to constantly improve and to become great people: to be true to your unique selves and to change your worlds. To change your worlds, one friend at a time; one moment at a time; one hug or one smile or one joke or one kind act at a time. One goal at a time.
We see you. We all see you. The real you. And what we see fills us with pride and it fills us with joy. Every single day.
We love you more than words could ever express.