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  • Felice Cohen

As A Matter of Fact

“Sometimes when I think no one cares, I go to Sears and tell them I’m lost. They say my name over and over on the loud speaker. We all need to matter. I matter to Sears.”

– Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann

Hard to believe my bat mitzvah was 30 years ago. (Okay, 31, but who’s counting?) In celebrating my cousin’s bat mitzvah this past weekend; I was reminded of my big day and all the family and friends who came to Cape Cod to celebrate. Even though I was excited about the presents and the party, I was well aware that it was a special and significant day in my life.

Many cultures and religions have an initiation ceremony to welcome their youngsters into adulthood. And why not? The preparation of learning a new language takes years and hours of study and dedication. By succeeding at something so difficult at an early age, it proves to them they have what it takes to thrive as they mature into adults.

It also says to a teen, “Your family and community are proud of you. We support you.” How many teens need to hear that? How many school shootings and stabbings might have been (or could be) avoided had someone told those kids, “Hey, you matter.” Hearing that might help some of them make better choices. In hearing my cousin’s parents say how proud they were of her, and seeing her beaming face in response, it was as if she was saying back to them, “Thanks. I will be a good person.” In that moment I was witnessing a promise – a promise of a bright future.

While the gifts I received from my bat mitzvah have long been forgotten (or spent!), the most valuable present I got that day I still have. The memory of all those smiling faces of family and friends who were there to support me, is an image I carry every day in everything I do. Knowing there is a team of people who believe in you to make a difference, can give you the strength to do just that.

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