Our Community Celebrates

Max Golden

Welcome and Shabbat Shalom. Thank you all for coming and sharing this special day with me – the day I become a Bar Mitzvah. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah doesn’t only mean I am becoming an adult in the Jewish religion; it also means that I am taking on the responsibilities of the Torah. My Torah portion is Parshah Noach.


This parshah begins with God instructing Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden ark. A great deluge, says God, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth. The ark will float, sheltering Noah, his sons, Shem, Ham, and Yapheth, and their families and two members (male and female) of each animal species.  After God gives the people a chance to repent (which they do not) rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah sends a raven, and then a series of doves, to check if the water had dried up.  When the ground dries completely—exactly one year (365 days) after the Flood started — God commands Noah to exit the ark and repopulate the earth. After, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to God. God swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds. The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they decided to build a great tower (The Tower of Babel) which was to reach up to heaven, to make them equal to God and symbolize their own invincibility.  As punishment, God decided to confuse their language so that they could no longer understand each other, causing them to abandon their project and move all over the Earth, splitting into seventy nations.


Thinking about the story of Noah and God I realized that no matter what religion we practice, no matter what we look like or what language we speak, or what traditions we follow, Judaism teaches us that we all came from one boat, searching for land and trusting in God.  


One major theme that I see in this portion – through the people’s relationship with God, the good and the bad, is that everyone needs help at some time.  And this includes me.  With help from my parents and others along the way, I’ve learned to live with my peanut allergy – which still scares me but doesn’t stop me from having fun.  With sports, I only get better with practice and help from my coaches and teammates. Teachers, family and friends help me learn new things.


For my Bar Mitzvah project, I decided to combine my love of sports and, keeping with the theme of ‘helping others’, work with a group called Leveling the Playing Field.  They collect new and gently used sports equipment and provide to areas in need.  The mission of the group reads “Leveling the Playing Field gives underprivileged children the opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of youth sports participation. We do this through the donation of used and excess sporting equipment to programs and schools serving low-income communities.”  Through the generosity of family and friends I was able to help collect and donate over 100 pieces of sporting equipment.


There are many people I want to thank that helped me get to and through today. I would like to thank Cantor Borsky for helping me prepare for my special day. I would like to thank my grandparents (which I’m lucky enough to have all four here today), my 97-year-old GG who’s joining us through Zoom, aunts, uncles, cousins and all my family for sharing in this special day. Thank you to all of my friends who are with me today from baseball, soccer, school and camp. And a special shout out to my best friends Brody, Jake and Justin.

Brody I am so happy that you moved to Cherry Hill because you are always around to hang out and play video games together. Playing baseball with you Brody was awesome I got to see you pitch and almost witness your first ever home run.

The twins Justin and Jake, I am so glad you guys moved to Cherry Hill. When I first heard you guys were moving here I got so happy because I had someone that goes to the same camp and lives like 30 seconds away. Also, it made us much better friends.

Thank you to my sister who like 80% of the time is annoying, but is pretty great the other 20%. I think she might say the same thing about me.

Last but not least, I thank my parents for being there for me all my life – my mom who always knows just what I need and my dad who’s always been a constant in my sports life cheering me on and as a soccer coach.  

It truly means a lot to me to have everyone share in this special day no matter if you are here or remote. Shabbat Shalom.


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