Thursday, October 11, 2018
Should Young Writers Have A Book Mitzvah?
This past weekend my son had his Bar Mitzvah, a religious ritual that has gone on in the Jewish tradition for centuries and millennia, where a boy, having turned 13 years of age is called upon to read from the Bible and take his place in the community as a man. I am not deeply religious but I am so proud that he continued the long family tradition and came away from it a changed individual. It made me wonder, should we have something similar for young writers – a Book Mitzvah?
Think about it. Our budding writers, perhaps before their books are published or even before they go off to college to study up on writing, language, and literature need to have a public ceremony attended by family, friends, and neighbors whereby they declare their transition into writinghood.
They would perhaps read from some of the writings they feel are great and important and then read aloud some of their own works. The community would show support for his or her ideas and appreciation of the liberal arts, encouraging the teenager to pursue dreams of impacting the world through words, to turn word into deeds, and to infuse enlightenment, love, creativity, and vision in all writers and readers.
My son not only read Hebrew and chanted prayers that date back thousands of years, he also stood before the congregation and gave his interpretation of what he had just read. He even offered a controversial but honest viewpoint on God. The event was really not just for him but for all those who came to it. We all learned something and simultaneously gave him empowerment and support.
Writing can be the hardest and easiest thing, depending on who is doing it and what’s going on in their lives. But to be a writer and for it to be what defines you takes courage, grit, and conviction.
Writers over many years, have been criticized, ridiculed, jailed, killed, and threatened. As soon as you begin to write you have ensured yourself of an enemy. The moment you convert a feeling, fantasy, or finding into an essay, blog post, article, poem or book you invite animosity and fear from those who merely lack an ability to understand, have too much pride to agree, are too selfish to allow themselves to honor your truth, and too indebted to an opposing viewpoint to be able to come to your side.
Writers, you deserve encouragement and love from the community. You need to know that society needs and values you. I can think of no better way than to have a Book Mitzvah.
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