Our Community Celebrates

Rachel Pennock

Rachel Pennock

Shabbat Shalom! Thank you for being here today. My Torah portion is called Naso in the book of Numbers.


In the Sinai desert, a headcount of the Children of Israel was a total of 8,580 Levites between the ages of 30 and 50 as those who will be transporting the Tabernacle. God communicates to Moses the law of the Sotah, the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Additionally, there is the law of the Nazir, who is forbidden from drinking wine, having long hair, and handling dead bodies. Aaron’s descendants, the Kohanim, receive instructions on how to bless the people of Israel. The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bring an offering for the inauguration of the Altar. The Torah describes each gift individually, despite the fact that they are identical.


There are many themes in my Torah portion. The theme that I would like to speak about is obeying rules. This occurs in my Torah portion when the law of the Nazir is communicated to the people, saying they can’t cut their hair, drink wine, and they are forbidden to come in contact with a dead body. They were called Nazarites and they were ancient Israelites pledged to the service of God and they lived by many strict laws in their life. I understand that because with everything going on, like the Coronavirus, there have been many strict rules placed on everyone to keep us safe. As an example here today, we are outside and distanced, instead of in a big room with lots and lots of people due to the virus. We have to wear masks and stay distant when in a public place and if you go out of your state or states around you, you have to quarantine for at least 14 days to make sure you are safe. 


This leads into my bat mitzvah project. My mitzvah project involves collecting supplies like towels, unfitted sheets, blankets, etc for the Animal Welfare Association located in Voorhees, NJ. I had also raised money and I raised double my goal! During Covid a lot of animals are left in the shelters because people can’t take care of them or handle them everyday, causing these animals to become under exercised and become homebound. This has caused so many shelters to become overpopulated and they have a hard time taking care of all the animals. I decided to make this my bat mitzvah project because I knew they were very undersupplied and had so many animals to help. You can continue to support the AWA even if you live far from Voorhees NJ. All you have to do is search up support.awanj.org/donate-now and donate any amount. During the last month I had been making trips to the AWA dropping off trunk loads of necessities. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this and it is so great to know that I am helping the animals in need.


In conclusion, there are a few people I would like to thank for helping me make this day the best it could be. Mom- Thank you for always having my back and always being there at the end of the day. I can’t imagine my biggest supporter being anyone else. Thank you for putting all your hard work and time into this day. Dad- Thank you for always putting me out of my comfort zone and making me think outside of the box. You never ever let anyone get in your way and you are such an amazing mentor. Evan- Even though you get on my nerves all the time I’m still grateful to have a big brother like you. Kiki and Grandpa – thank you for always making me feel so special and important.  I am glad you’re back from Florida. All my friends and family- thank you for always supporting me and thank you so much for coming. Whether you are in person or online I am so thankful. Lasty, Cantor Scott thank you for teaching me everything for today and helping me study. I am so grateful to have a teacher as great as you are.


Thank you again for everything,

Rachel Pennock


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