My heart is full. After many hours of hard work and preparation, along with much love and support, my son Benjamin is ready to become a Bar Mitzvah. We are counting the minutes until his big day.
Years ago, I had a theory that planning a Bar Mitzvah provided a welcome distraction for parents facing the reality of their child’s growing up. What better antidote to wistfulness – or so I thought – than planning a beautiful and meaningful service, with music and dancing and a big hora to follow?
Now that I am here I see that there is no distraction needed, or wanted, from this beautiful growing-up time. I want the exact opposite of distraction from these moments, like the one when I realize that if I’m barefoot, I must tilt my head upward, slightly, to look Benjamin in the eye. I want only to be present and immersed in every second. It is something almost magical and sacred, to witness this growth – something to embrace and savor, something to watch carefully and intentionally. To be here for each second of love and (happy) tears and joy and lots of laughter. And to feel an abundance of pride in the person our child has become – the same special person he always has been, but with more of every single thing that’s so special about him.
Many months ago, we attended a B’nai Mitzvah retreat with our synagogue. We talked a lot about how to keep the true meaning of this milestone in our hearts, something Benjamin has committed to throughout his Bar Mitzvah journey. In keeping with that promise, Benjamin has sought out ways large and small to give back during this past year. I’m sharing just a few of those moments below because, well, if you can’t kvell over your kiddo when his Bar Mitzvah is coming up, when can you?
Mazel Tov, Benjamin. We adore you.
Delivering meals to the homebound on Thanksgiving
Preparing for our synagogue’s sandwich brigade to assist an immigration center in Mt. Kisco
Assembling care packages for Jewish soldiers on Benjamin’s birthday, in honor of his grandfather’s military service
Bringing books and supplies to a preschool in need as part of a broader effort to fight illiteracy in Jamaica
Playing cello for the residents of a local nursing home
Working with our school’s Power of One club to make a difference for global communities in need, including student-planned fundraisers to fight child labor and aid refugees