Today was FINALLY the day of Randy & Alex’s Bar Mitzvah! I know they never thought the day would come – and quite frankly, neither did I! Or – I was afraid it would come too fast, and they wouldn’t be prepared! But – miracles do happen, and the boys amazed me today at their service! They did such a good job, and they were so proud of themselves. Not that I need reasons to believe in what I do, but the feeling we all had at the end was definitely a reminder, if I did need one..
My relationship with Randy’s family was very special. Their oldest son, Terry, was Trevor’s Bar Mitzvah partner 5 years ago. I tutored them both, and while Trevor was simple, and needed very little teaching, Terry was, well…a bit more of a challenge. Then, 2 years later, I had the pleasure of tutoring his sister, Casey. (Who was MUCH sweeter at the time, but still a bit of a challenge) Then, along comes Randy, and now that I am able to officiate Bar Mitzvah ceremonies on my own, their family came right to me, and asked me to create a service for them, and their friend’s, the Kaplans. It was agreed – I would officate the Bar Mitzvah for both Randy and Alex.
I was nervous last night, and even more so this morning. These kids are hockey fanatics, and let me tell you – everything in their lives was about hockey! Getting them to study every week was a chore, but they were the sweetest boys, I could never really get mad at them. And even though we struggled to get through the lessons, they had the most amazing attitude and pride in what they were doing. I knew it was tough for them to get it all done, and today, they made me the most proud Bar Mitzvah tutor and Cantor on earth!
I wrote a few of my own melodies to change things up this time, and I made especially sure that I made this a learning service. I am convinced these days, that in a modern Bar Mitzvah service, sometimes we find just as many non-Jews, as we do Jewish attendees, and it is important to explain every component of the service. I have heard from many of my Jewish guests, that they even appreciated hearing why we do what we do – as if they were never taught the actual reasons and meanings behind our ritual traditions.
So, at the end, from my Jewish guests and non, I had amazing comments and felt so proud of this very special service that we created. The boys were beaming with pride, as were their families. I know they will take the lessons they learned in this experience, and continue to apply them to their lives. Just when I’m most nervous about the outcome, another service becomes my “best ever”! Thanks, Randy & Alex. You did SUCH a great job!
P.S. – It is important to note that in both of these families, the MOM was the NON-JEW. Each of these mothers make a tremendous commitment to raising Jewish families, and without them, the Bar Mitzvah’s would never have happened. I know this is becoming more common, but I just have to go on record by publicly thanking them for their ultimate commitment to their Jewish husbands and their children, and for sharing the responsibility of Jewish continuity. I couldn’t be more proud.