A mother's open letter to her daughter upon her graduation - opinion

Congratulations on your graduation, my dear. The world is waiting for your light to shine, and I have no doubt that you’ll make a positive and lasting impact wherever you go. 

 PROUD MOTHER: The writer with daughter Elkah.  (photo credit: Courtesy Hadassah Chen)
PROUD MOTHER: The writer with daughter Elkah.
(photo credit: Courtesy Hadassah Chen)

Dear Elkah,

It feels like just yesterday when you started your school journey here in Jerusalem. I remember the excitement we all had as you stepped into 1st grade, called kita aleph in Israel. You looked so adorable in your uniform, carrying your new bag, and those lovely sandals your father got for you the day before the big first day.

As I look back, it amazes me how quickly time has flown by. Throughout your school years, you’ve grown into an incredible young woman with determination and perseverance. Your dedication to your studies and the experiences you’ve had in school, even when sometimes you wanted to run away from it, have undoubtedly shaped you in wonderful ways.

Though we faced unexpected challenges during that year when your sister, Navi, fell ill, you showed immense strength and maturity beyond your years. Your love and support for your little sister were truly heartwarming. It’s moments like those that make me even prouder to call you my daughter.

It was an incredibly tough time for you, going from being carried and cared for by us to almost being abandoned to the care of grandparents, aunts, and uncles, as we spent most of our time in the hospital with Navi. I’m sorry that I didn’t fully realize the weight you were carrying during that difficult period.

 An illustrative image of graduation. (credit: INGIMAGE)
An illustrative image of graduation. (credit: INGIMAGE)

You were only seven years old, yet you showed such maturity and strength. Your love and devotion to Navi during her illness were awe-inspiring. You never asked for much and never cried in front of us, instead focusing on making Navi happy during her time with us. When Navi passed away, you faced the pain with remarkable resilience.

I REMEMBER HOW, a year later, you wrote for school a heartfelt page about Navi, which won a prize and was turned into a play performed by the older girls. Your ability to express and turn your feelings into something beautiful and meaningful was remarkable.

It wasn’t an easy journey for you, but you persevered. In kita hey, 5th grade, you had a wonderful teacher who broke down the shell you had built around yourself and discovered your true potential. Your marks improved, you made new friends, and you became a strong and beloved leader in your class.

Embarking on a new chapter post-graduation

Now, as you embark on this new chapter after graduating, I want you to know how proud we are of you. Your accomplishments and the memories you’ve created in school will forever hold a special place in our hearts. The knowledge and experiences you’ve gained will guide you toward a bright and fulfilling future.

As you move forward, remember that life is a journey filled with ups and downs. Embrace every challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn. Have the courage to pursue your dreams, knowing that we are here to support and love you unconditionally.

As you embark on this new chapter and join Sherut Leumi for our beloved country, always remember to fight for what is right. No matter the difficulties our country may face, don’t lose hope, and keep your passion for making the world a better place.

We are facing challenging times now in Israel; you are very much aware of the situation. As we talk over dinner about politics and life, you already have a clear idea about where you stand and what you believe. Your eyes, though, are still eyes of my baby, looking for answers while staring into my eyes. 

When, as a child, you asked me for silly things, hoping I would agree to them, I would explain my point of view to you. You would stare at me and listen while lost in your own thoughts. I see now that same expression on your face when we talk about your future and your plans, almost too scared to enter the adult world, outside that protective shell you had in school. I don’t have all the answers; you will need courage to stand for what you believe in, and a lot of love to understand those who do not think like you. Remember, you were raised with a lot of courage, you have a big heart, and above all, always choose love over hate.

I KNOW you want to be out there, explaining to the world about “your Israel” and your wonderful nation – you might even be an ambassador one day. Whatever will be, whatever life takes you, do it with passion and give it all you can.

You possess the gift of the Torah, and it will guide you throughout your life. Use it to inspire others and be a force for good in the world. Though you may be a private person, I wanted to share my feelings because you deserve to know how proud and grateful I am to have you as my daughter.

We never discussed those difficult years at the beginning of your school life, and we never wanted to go back to those troubled times. But now, as I watched you hug your teachers and classmates, I wanted to thank you for being so strong and to say I’m sorry if I wasn’t always there at the beginning of this long and incredible journey.

Congratulations on your graduation, my dear. The world is waiting for your light to shine, and I have no doubt that you’ll make a positive and lasting impact wherever you go. 

With all my love and admiration,


The writer is from Italy and now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and four children. She heads HadassahChen Productions and hosts a weekly talk show on Arutz7.