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Helping a Bat Mitzvah girl cope with disappointment

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Mirit Shalom from Ashkelon shared with me how difficult it was to cancel the Bat MItzvah celebration of her daughter, Hallel, because of the security situation. I consulted with my mother-in-law, family therapist Ziva Meir. Here are some of her suggestions that all of us can use for coping with disappointment at times like this:
1. "Allow space for pain. Don't repress it and don't say 'What a mature girl you are for not crying.' There is a place for crying, for tears, for frustration, for disappointment, not only for your daughter, but for you.
2. Try to find a technical solution. There are many generous invitations from event halls to host celebrations such as yours. Perhaps you can relocate to a northern venue? Or have a symbolic family gathering now and a larger celebration later?
3. The biggest gift -- that of mitzvot -- cannot be taken away from her! No enemy can take away the private miracle of the day: Your daughter is becoming a member of the club known as Am Yisrael (the nation of Israel). She will now be obligated, committed, and connected to her people like never before. She will have a superpower that comes with the performance of mitzvot and she can begin to utilize it immediately.
And more than this, she is now part of the great story of her people. Our history continues in a positive direction, even if we have not yet finished dealing with our enemies as we must take actions necessary to subdue them. She is paying a painful and frustrating price, but she must understand that her sacrifice has special meaning and significance.
5. Humor! At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, 100-year-old Rabbi Gershon Edelstein was asked how to be strong at times of disaster. It was thought his answer would have to do with learning Torah or praying, but he said the answer was to be found in humor. In other words, the situation is difficult in any case so why not bring into our homes as much joy as possible through lightness of spirit, a sense of proportion, and joke telling. (As a child, I remember the days of the Gulf War as a frightening period, but full of fun and laughter too.)
In summary, to cope with the present situation and still to celebrate, it's okay to feel pain, technical solutions can be found, our sacrifice and our story can be discussed, and we can always laugh. As is well known, God gives mothers, in particular, unique powers, especially at times like this. Mazal tov. Wishing much success to Hallel and to all of you."


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