Another Family Journey

by | Apr 6, 2016

I am talking about my Journey and the Bar/Bat mitzvah of my family.

To my surprise, my middle son Adam, freely chose to do a very inspirational event at 14 years old. He volunteered to do a Bar Mitzvah. What made this so extraordinary was that Adam has significant speech and learning disorders. New words were hard for him to learn by sight. He struggled with reading. Yet, he was able to learn and speak an English translation of the Hebrew prayers. He diligently studied for many, many hours over a full years time in order to succeed at this.
He never gave up. I was so proud of my son when i witnessed the Bar Mitzvah. I could hardly believe he was standing up in front on the Bima, the front platform in the synagogue. He was in all of his glory. I was smiling from ear to ear. His father, who had a catholic background, always seemed more comfortable with the Jewish tradition. Even though he was fairly silent during this ceremony, I just knew how much this meant to him.
Even before Adam became the first member of our family to receive this sacred ceremony, I had great intentions to do my Bar Mitzvah. It was on my bucket list, but he beat me to it.
It’s only recently that I’ve been re inspired to complete this celebration for myself. This was always something that I was intimidated by, it seemed out of my reach.
I went through a very dark and painful period in my life that lasted many years. It was brought on by the loss of my husband and my oldest son. In my heart I saw them both being an integrall part of the ceremony. I had to do enormous healing, grieving and recovery work before I could proceed.
It’s only recently, that I’ve felt strong enough to succeed. I am now ready to learn the Hebrew and Aramaic language.
Being the head of the family, i feel this is a very important passage for me and for my whole family.
Josh, my youngest son also wanted the opportunity to continue the family tradition of receiving the Bar Mitzvah. Josh struggles with speaking due to autism.
His schools speech therapist volunteered to help out using a slowed down version of the Hebrew prayers. At home, he received reinforcement through a behavioral therapist. He was very committed to this.

It started to feel very important to me to find the way to include my son Danny who had passed 19 years previous at 3 1/2 years old. I had always heard about the story Daniel and the lion’s den, but
didn’t know what it was about. I thought it was a simple story about Daniel killing a lion, but it wasn’t. It was about Daniel, his faith in God and how it protected him from the lions. In honor of Danny, I wanted to include something from this story in my bat mitzvah. I wanted to either read the story or sing a verse from it.

Many people study Hebrew from a much younger age than I am now. This is a very big challenge for me. I asked my rabbi about including this section from the story of Daniel. It meant so much to my
heart to have Danny included through this sharing. The Rabbi had to think about it. ‘This isn’t part of the torah he said, but maybe you could learn to sing this in Aramaic which is different than Hebrew in its pronunciation.

I am glad that I am able to honor my son Daniel, with his own bar mitzvah passage, which he never got to do. It feels more like a shared family celebration now with all my sons included. In my faith, I
remember him as the brave, courage young man, who in spirit is with his family now and always.

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