Here I am with my family before the service. That red necklace that I am wearing is my Bat Mitzvah present.
This is our congregation. For a proper Bat Mitzvah ceremony with Torah reading and everything to take place, you need a minyan, a prayer quorum of ten or more Jewish adults. Being new in town, the only people we knew were Penny-Gwen, our upstairs neighbor (far left), and Carina, our downstairs neighbor (far right), neither of whom are adults. However, we asked them to round up everyone they knew to come to my Bat Mitzvah, and they did a pretty good job! This is our congregation.
We gave our local fire fighter the honor of carrying the Torah around, and I walked after him. The congregation lined up to touch and kiss the Torah and greet me and tell me how well I was doing.
And here I am reading Torah. This is the first of three aliyot. An aliyah is an honor whereby an individual is called up to the Torah with his or her Hebrew name. He or she then recites some blessings, Torah (at least three verses) is read, and a blessing is recited again. For this first aliyah, we chose to honor my father. The two women you see here are gabbaim, holding the scroll open, making sure I don't lose my place, and correcting my mistakes.
And here is the second aliyah. For this one we had a bit of a puzzle. We of course wanted to honor my mother as well, but Jewish law states that family members cannot take consecutive aliyot. In the end, we gave the second aliyah to the oldest member of our congregation.
After the Torah reading, the Torah was paraded around again (this time by our local ballerina) and I walked after it. Once again, the congregation lined up to touch and kiss the Torah and congratulate me.
After the Torah was put away, I gave my speech! In case you can't read that tiny piece of paper, it says, "Thank you for coming to my Bat Mitzvah."
And the food. Can't forget the food. A Saturday Bat Mitzvah would have a real luncheon but because mine was on a Monday morning we didn't have to provide as much. So we just served donuts, brownies, and punch.