Dear family and friends: Today, as I finally stand before you as a full member of the House of Israel, I know this is not my celebration alone. Rather, it is a celebration of the generations who struggled so that I could have what is indisputably the best Bat Mitzva party ever held in Temple Kol Emeth. I hope you've all had a chance to try the seven—that's right, seven—different theme buffets. Head over to the Gilman Social Hall when we're done here; if the fully-functioning Pleasure Dome does not end the petty whisperings about Karen Goldblatt's “Return to Venice” party, the mini digital movie theater with real AMC ushers and snack bar should do the trick. Try the salted toffee kettle corn, Karen.
Anyway, I ask that you all join me in lighting twelve candles to represent the meaning and continuity of this moment. In keeping with tradition, I would like to ask my parents, Rachel & Paul Katz, to come up and light the first candle. You made me what I am today—a confident, beautiful, and now extremely powerful young woman. Thank you so much.
“Midor lador”—from generation to generation. Meema and Poppy—please come light the second candle. You guys have always been there for me; your generosity in paying for the surviving members of Wham! to play tonight will not go unremembered. I love you so much.
Aunt Georgie—please light the third candle. I'm gonna be a cougar just like you one day.
For the fourth candle, I'd like to call up my very best friends, Amy and Siobhan. We've been rocking it since Mrs. Karp's class in second grade, and we're never gonna stop. Look around you, girls! Can you believe it? You guys are family, and I'm taking you all the way on this crazy ride with me.
In the words of Hillel, if I am only for myself, what am I? For the fifth candle, I'd like to ask my best school friends—Katie B. and Sylvia—to come up. The Larchmont Wrecking Krew! When I transferred from Valley Stream Middle, I thought I'd never get over it. But you guys stepped up and gave me a home. And for that, I am eternally grateful. So I have a surprise for each of you. From today on, you're not just the most popular girls at LJH. Post-party, you are now the most popular girls in the entire Nassau County Consolidated School District. I've informed the top girls in each junior high and below that you can speak for me in all but the most sensitive matters. Welcome to the big show, ladies.
Maimonides writes that in the desert of Sinai, the camp of the Israelites always seemed like a lush green garden. And so it is that I'd like to ask my best camp friends—Trudie, Skyler, and Christina—to honor me by lighting the sixth candle. You have always made my summers epic and a true vacay from the burden of my responsibilities. I want you to know that I'm here for you. You'll find my direct cell number under your name cards; share it with no-one.
For the seventh and eight candles, I'm going to ask that all my other friends—everyone at tables six through fourteen—join me at the podium. Now, just because you haven't been called by name doesn't mean you're shut out of the fruits of my leadership. Look at the people who've lit candles before you; if you show initiative and respect, there's always room near the top. If you already know my Skype handle, congratulations—you've opened a door. Let's see if you can walkthrough.
Now—Lindsay Kaplan. Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay. Best friends in the third grade. American Girl tea parties, matching iPod covers. And then what? You dump me like a bad habit to hang out with Gretchen Willoughby and her gang of theater weirdos. Poor long-term strategy. Ninth candle, but only because our dads are business partners.
Christina G and Caitlin. You're probably wondering why I'm bringing you up together for the tenth candle. Don't I know about your massive fight? How Caitlin Snapchatted a boob shot to Evan, Christina's boyfriend at the time? Of course, I do. But who has suffered from the porno selfie more than me? No one. This feud ends now.
So, here we are at the eleventh candle. This is a very special candle. This candle is going to be lit by my new friend, Karen Goldblatt. Come on up here, Karen. Watch that trembling hand—you wouldn't want to burn us all up, would you? Ha ha. Now, Karen, why don't you tell everybody how many times you went back to the Polynesian table? It was four, wasn't it? Don't be surprised, Karen. I see everything. Like the patriarch Abraham, my heart is an open tent. And so I'm willing to accept your friendship and forget about the stupid gondoliers and how you called it the “party of the century” at your candle-lighting ceremony. I'm looking forward to being besties, Karen. But I should tell you that if anything should happen to me—if a rumor about me liking Dylan Jacobs (gross) were to spread, or if I should find my friends strangely unavailable on a Saturday night—I'm going to start asking questions, Karen. And believe me, you don't want that. Now, I think your dad is waiting for you in the parking lot. Love you!
The final candle, of course, is in honor of God. Because it is only through His mercy and kindness that a regular girl from the streets of Valley Stream can make it in a world like this. As our rabbis say, a slave shows his true character, not while he is enslaved but when he becomes a master.