The two children of Sveta and Dima decided–on their own–to have a joint Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah. In their speeches, and in remarks by their parents, can be seen the evolution of Jewish consciousness, emotionally and historically, as well as a commentary on America. Dima set the stage with a telling comment:

“…when we came to America we suddenly became ‘the Russians’, and not Jews, even though nobody in their clear mind would call us Russians back in Russia.”

In his remarks, Dima added, with wonder and no small sense of pride: “What we have here today is totally the kids’ initiative. Somehow, something had triggered this renewed, totally un-imposed interest in Jewish heritage, this need for belonging that we all often talk about.”

In her remarks, Sveta too expressed pride in her children, and reminded them: “There is also something else you share, being the children of Jews from Eastern Europe: in your blood, you carry all the resourcefulness, the will, and the luck of those who lived. And in your hearts, you will always carry an obligation to those who did not survive.”

In her speech, Nicki reflects on how she went from someone who had little interest in Jewishness to someone so engaged that a Bat Mitzvah was in order.

In his speech, Martin offers a nuanced commentary on his Torah portion, Emor.