Personal Pirke Avot Speech
Your second opportunity to teach the congregation comes after you have finished chanting both Torah and Haftorah portions. Think of this second set of remarks as your opportunity to speak to the congregation about a topic of your choosing, something that is personally important to you. Of course, these remarks must also reflect the special occasion the congregation is sharing with you. You are being recognized as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a responsible and capable member of the Jewish community. The congregation and community want to know some more about you, what is important to you, how you will fulfill your new Jewish responsibilities and how your Jewish knowledge will guide you as you grow and meet new challenges.
To help you get started, you will receive a copy of a very important Jewish book, Pirke Avot. This book is a collection of sayings and teachings from famous rabbis who lived a long time ago. They speak about morals, values and personal conduct. They speak about what it means to be a responsible, decent individual as well as how to be a contributing member of community and society. You will search Pirke Avot for a teaching that is significant and meaningful to you and that teaching will become the starting point for your remarks. You may find a teaching that shares something in common with your Torah and Haftorah portions, but that is not necessary. Your Personal Pirke Avot speech can be on an entirely different topic. It can address an experience in your own life. It could be your discussion of a current event that has impressed or concerned you. You have many topics to choose from.
It is in this set of remarks that the congregation will want to hear about something important to you as well as how you will go about taking your place within the Jewish community. This is a good place to talk about your commitment to Judaism and to the customs, traditions and teachings of your family. The congregation will also hope to hear about your plans to further your Jewish education and to participate in the congregation. How your Jewish values are expressed in the things you do or in the relationships you have, could also be included.
At the end of this speech, you may include a short paragraph that gives thanks to your teachers, tutors, family and friends for their support and guidance during your Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. These acknowledgements should be brief and sincere.
General Helpful Hints: Print your speeches in a font that is easy to read. Practice your speeches in front of a mirror and, sometimes, with someone listening. Speak slowly, clearly and with a strong voice. Remember to smile and, if possible, to look up at the congregation occasionally.