Today was one of those red circle days on the calendar. Life seems to have revolved around today, and I’ve pushed through May, sometimes feeling like I didn’t even take the time to breathe. This morning, I felt totally overwhelmed with my upcoming commitments for the day, and now, at 9pm, the day is past, and I am finished with my work. And what a day it has been…
Josh..My amazing Josh. Today was his Bar Mitzvah, and for the first time in a while, tomorrow – at 10 a.m., when I would have normally gone to his house for tutoring, I will be sad for the emptiness in my calendar. This child has brightened my day every Sunday, and has reminded me weekly that I am perfect for what I do, and what I do is perfect for me. Hebrew school didn’t fit for Josh. He acted out, disrupted the class, and his Mom was at a loss for what to do. What was worse, was his Mom worked at the synagogue, and felt that nobody made the effort to engage Josh in his lessons, or in Jewish learning. And so Mom asked me to officiate Josh’s service, and I immediately agreed to help.
In the beginning, working with Josh was no picnic. His dad had passed away, and to make ends meet, his mom works 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to give him a good life, and raise him in a great city with great schools. But, Josh was quite angry at times, and acted out in ways that didn’t really help him much when it came to earning respect from his teachers. And much of the time, in the beginning, Josh wasn’t even very nice to his Mom, either.
One day, Josh was being particularly nasty, and I got up and left his house in the middle of his lesson. He cried. He begged me not to leave, and it broke my heart. But I left anyway, knowing that somehow, this child had to take responsibility for his behavior. He called me later that night, apologized, and promised that he would never act out again. And he held up his end of the bargain. Every day, for 1 hour on Sunday mornings, Josh couldn’t wait to show me what he knew, and how hard he had worked. We understood each other, and immediately began to enjoy working together. He would greet me in the mornings, most of the time with a big hug and kiss, and the hour would fly by.
Today, Josh proved to me, his family, the world, and most importantly – himself…what a little bit of hard work, dedication, respect, and self discipline can do. Josh led our service perfectly today. Josh stood on the bimah, and became a man, and I’m not sure who was prouder – his Mom, his grandparents, or me. Many teachers gave up on Josh, but I saw something in that young man that made me know that he and I would work miracles together. ….and we did….
…But…that was just the first half of the day..