In an episode of "Zoey 101" on Nickelodeon, Zoey and her friends at Pacific Coast Academy buried a time capsule to be opened 20 years in the future. In it, Zoey included a DVD monologue about her thoughts, her friends, and what she likes to do for fun. You can bury a time capsule, too, but without the dirt or the shoveling. And no need to worry about what others will think when they open your treasure, because this time capsule is intended solely for you, or at least you in the future. So, get your hands dirty with some serious introspection, then revisit your thoughts just before your bar or bat mitzvah. Here's how:
1. Think about who you are today and consider what message you'd like to hear when you're older. Use the questions below to stimulate your thinking, and then, jot down your ideas.
- How would you describe yourself?
- What in your life are you most proud of?
- What did you once think was important, but now realize isn't that important? How did you learn this lesson?
- What are the most important things in your life?
- What brings you joy?
- What makes you sad?
- How has Judaism influenced your life?
- What are you most afraid of?
- What challenges have you faced in life, and what have you learned from them?
- What do you want to change about your life?
- Describe the people who have had the greatest impact on your life.
2.Consider the 10 Jewish values below. Which ones do you struggle with? Which ones come easy to you? Which ones would you most like to strengthen between now and your bar or bat mitzvah?
10 Jewish Values:
- Ometz lev—inner strength or courage—allows us to confront daily challenges, such as standing up to bullies, speaking out against gossip, and avoiding harmful substances.
- Sameah b’helko—personal satisfaction—enables us to feel content with who we are and what we have. This value steels us against negative emotions like greed and jealousy.
- Shlom bayit—family harmony—results when integrity, honesty, and respect form the basis of our relationships with our parents and siblings.
- Shmirat haguf—guarding our health—encourages us to treat our bodies as if they were on loan from God; therefore, we should exercise, eat healthy food, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Rodef shalom—pursuing peace—teaches us to seek peace with friends (or ex-friends), siblings, and parents. Instead of arguing, we talk through issues, understand each other, and compromise for the sake of the relationship.
- Hesed—kindness—requires us to be sensitive and compassionate to others’ needs, and to help out whenever possible.
- B’tzelem Elokim—made in God’s image—reminds us that each person carries a spark of holiness inside. Everyone, therefore, regardless of their race, age, or gender deserves our respect.
- Kedushah—holiness—demands that we reflect God’s holiness in all of our behavior. We fulfill this command by observing sacred times like Shabbat and holidays, by visiting sacred places like Israel and our own synagogues, and by partnering with God to repair the world.
- Koah hadibbur—power of speech—warns us not only to avoid foul language and gossip, but also to use language to mend relationships and uplift those around us.
- Tefillah—prayer—increases our awareness of God, and expresses our appreciation for everything good in our lives.
3. Now write a letter to a future you, which you will read a few days before you become a bar or bat mitzvah. You might want to use an online service, such as futuremail.bensinclair.com. Websites like this will e-mail your future-gram back to you on whatever date you request. If you don't yet have a bar or bat mitzvah date, arrange for your letter to arrive on your thirteenth birthday.