Another example of Ayala’s new form of giving was last Thursday night at her Bat Mitzvah celebration. To a certain extent the December terrorist attack robbed Ayala of having her personal day to celebrate her bat mitzvah, like her other classmates. Why? Because her bat mitzvah had become a national day of celebration. Her family had considered the possibility of having a small private family affair, which would have made a lot of sense considering all the drama and trauma the family has been through. However the family recognized that Ayala’s progress was indeed a time for national celebration and reflection – and they did not deny the rest of us the opportunity to celebrate with her.
All in attendance experienced a night of ‘kedusha’ (holiness). For one, we were celebrating the survival of two people in what could have easily been a fatal terrorist attack, just a short walk from where we were rejoicing. Second, we were in the presence of an individual who had been the subject of millions of prayers from all over the world. And with so many of the people who have prayed for her milling around in the same field, there was a palpable sanctity that could easily be accessed. Finally, this celebration had expanded way beyond my daughter’s 12 year old classmate. Ayala has become a Jewish and Israeli symbol of survival. She was attacked for being Jewish, has been buoyed by Jews around the world, and the celebration of her growth into a Jewish woman gives all of us an opportunity to rejoice in and reflect on what Jewish identity means in the world today.
So while we came to give honor to this remarkable Jewish woman, the reality was that by receiving all of her well-wishers – at the hospital and at her bat mitzvah celebration – she was the one who was giving us so much. She had surrendered her own bat mitzvah so that the Jewish nation could witness that Ayala was indeed progressing. All of the attendees were probably more inspired and moved by Ayala’s presence than Ayala was by ours– just like when my daughter and I, and countless others, would visit her in the hospital. We gain a lot more than she receives.
In that way, Ayala has returned to her pre-attack form and has resumed her preferred behavior: giving. She has perfected the art of receiving so well, that when she receives kindness she is actually giving back more than she receives.
Here is your opportunity to contribute to Ayala’s rehabilitation.