Sunday, November 04, 2007

Becoming a man


Mentor and student, getting ready
London, ON, October 2007

Anyone who's ever experienced the responsibility of caring for and raising a child knows that parenthood isn't easy. The answers, from staying up late with a cranky baby to teaching the basics of solid morals and empathy, never seem to be straightforward. There's no book to read, no universally understood set of performance benchmarks to target.

So when your own child marks a major milestone and does it better than you could have ever hoped, it's easy to sigh a happy sigh and think, just for a second, that you're all heading in the right direction.

Our eldest son, Zachary, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah this weekend. It's an important milestone in a Jewish boy's life, where he becomes a responsible adult. To mark the occasion, the bar mitzvah boy chants from the torah - the Old Testament - and for the first time in his life actively and officially participates in the prayer service. It's rooted in ancient history, and it's often an occasion for entire families and communities to come together to celebrate.

Zach studied for his bar mitzvah for months, befriending our synagogue's near-legendary cantor in the process. He and his wife welcomed Zach into his home week after week, and teacher and student worked patiently, methodically to get him ready for his big day. His reading was the longest one in the entire torah, and it would have been easy for Zach to simply do a small part of it. But he persisted through challenges that included breaking his leg and missing weeks worth of school, studying when he really would have rather been doing something else.

Yesterday, he got up in front of a congregation of friends and family from London, Montreal, Toronto and other parts of Canada and the U.S. He stood up on the central platform and ripped through his performance without skipping a beat. For the first time in his young life, he rose to a large challenge and flew on his own. He made us immensely proud in the process.

Sometimes, you wonder if you're doing all the things that you need to do. Yesterday, my wife and I blinked back tears as we watched him, confident that on at least some levels, we've been following the right path.

Your turn: On becoming an adult. Please discuss.

About this picture: Zach studies with our cantor this week, using the sanctuary to get a feel for what the real thing would be like. Not wanting to disturb them - but still hoping to capture some of the spirit of this time - I quietly walked around the perimeter of the sanctuary and captured this. More to come...

35 comments:

Bob-kat said...

No wonder you're proud, you have every right to be. he didn't choose the easy route and then soared with success!

Just popping by to say you might find my latest post interesting, based on a comment you recently left on my post about pressure. I am very much like you in that I am always aware of the pressure of the expectations of those around me, and of course of myself. Your son, seems to have embraced the pressure he was under with aplomb. Good for him!

raehan said...

Mazel Tov, Papa!

Rachel said...

Congratulations to Zach on reaching that milestone. That was such a sweet, moving post.

BreadBox said...

Congratulations Zach! Mazel tov!
N.

barbie2be said...

Mazel tov, Zach! today you are a man.

i was so touched by seeing my 59 year old sister reading from the torah at her bat mitzvah. it is a sureal experience when you aren't jewish to see one of your siblings reading from the sacred books and in hebrew no less.

this is a wonderful shot that i am sure you will cherish forever.

barbie2be said...

doh! forgot to mention that michele sent me over to cheer zach.

~Cathy~ said...

Congrats to Zachary... I imagine you are still swelling with pride. Keep ahold of that high. I have a feeling Zach will be adding to it in the coming years. He sounds like a fine young man.

Michele sent me tonight...

David said...

i am waiting to comment on becoming adult, because I am still enjoying my childhood too much

Sarch said...

Carmi you just got to witness a defining moment in your sons' life. One that he will think back on from time to time as he goes through the joys and trials of adulthood. Isn't it great to see such a thing?!

Geggie said...

Mazel Tov to your family.

I knew I was an adult for sure when I moved 2000 miles away from my family when I was 23 years old, and then again when I got my first mortgage note at 25. Now at 34, I'm still humbled by my parents' wisdom and patience with me, their eldest child.

Michele sent me to say hello.

scrappintwinmom said...

Wow. Your post brought tears to my eyes. You must be so proud! Congrats to Zach, who perservered despite having broken his leg (thanks to the Levy sprit), and congrats to you and the Mrs as well. Always nice to receive validation that you're doing the right things in raising your kids, yes? Mazel Tov!

jsdaughter said...

What a wonderful weekend. I know how proud you are of your young man...

Thumper said...

Wow...I got kinda choked up just at the picture. That first step into adulthood...you never really get that back, and that you have this memory of Zach's first step into it...perfectly wonderful.

Sara said...

Congrats!!!

kenju said...

Congratulations, Zach, and the proud parents. I cannot imagine having to do all that study throughout the saga of the broken leg and all. He is to be commended!

CG said...

Congratulations to your son, and to you and your wife on bringing him up so well!

MoMMY said...

Huge Congratulations to Zach!

I'm guessing I'll be in the same boat as you Carmi in several more weeks. Alex's Bar Mitzvah is in December. He's doing fabulous. I'm floundering with the planning.

David said...

i took two pics in our service on Reformation Sunday, but neither came out well, cause I tried to snap them on the run...
Mazel tov to Zach

Anne said...

Many Congrats!

On becoming an adult: 13 is so young, I feel I'm barely there and I'm appoaching 50.


At first glance I thought that was the new picture for captioning then I read the text.
I'm looking forward to the real one, but in the mean time:

"Don't worry about it, things like this happen, and the folks at First Baptist haven't heard about it yet."

MissMeliss said...

What a great kid you have. And what great parents he has.

This photo is beautiful. So reflective and hopeful.

Gill said...

You must be so proud! Congratulations to Zach and to you and your wife on raising such a fine boy :-)

Joan said...

Mazel Tov Zach! And Mazel Tov to proud papa and mama, too! :) I think I first started to feel like an adult when I moved away to go to college. Thirteen is young indeed, but certainly old enough to begin taking more responsibility for one's life. Your meditation brought tears to my eyes, Carmi, so you and the Mrs. should feel free to let yours flow, as well.

wordnerd said...

What a beautiful image. I cannot imagine how proud you must have been witnessing that sacred ritual -- probably thinking it didn't seem so long ago that you did it -- and realizing that he's growing up.

Just remind him that he can take a long time to really grow up -- and you can use your readers as examples! :)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Such an important day in Zachs life and in your life, too! It has to be quite something to see your little baby boy---now, become "a man"....Congratulations to you and your wife and to Zach...! A very proud day, indeed, Carmi. And so very very moving.
Considering all that your dear son has been through in these last months, it sounds like he did more than 'good'...He did GREAT!

Beverly said...

What a wonderful moment! I have tears in my eyes looking at the photo and reading your post. What pride and joy you must feel.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Mazel Tov, Levy family!!!

I regularly cry at my kids' accomplishments. Getting on the bus the first time. Last Friday night, at temple, when my son was standing up with the other second-graders and singing loudly, hands in pockets, looking so into it and cool at the same time.

I can't imagine the path between 7 and 13, but I suspect that it's gonna be full of tears ... of pride.

Mazel Tov, again. Hope your son's not drowning in thank you notes now!

courtney said...

Mazel Tov, Zach!
I attended a friend's bar mitzvah when I was that age, and it is such a beautiful ceremony. I'm glad he did such a wonderful job. You should be very proud.

Heidi said...

Congratulations to Zach! And to the rest of the family, too, as you all learn to grow... together.

Jessica Foster said...

Congratulations to your son--and to his parents! You have reason to be proud. Beautiful photo.

I suppose I felt like I was becoming an adult when I was taking care of my mom when she was sick, fighting for her life. It was a reversal of roles.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

Mazel Tov young man. I am very proud of you. I hope that your day was filled with joy and that you were able to feel the sacred in the moment of reading from the Torah.

I wish I could have seen that. You never know where this might lead Zach later in life.

Jeremy

moon said...

As I mentioned in Morah's blog, I am very happy for Zach and your whole family...although I am not jewish, I know that this ritual is very important to u all...YAY Zack for doing it more then justice..no wonder u were all so proud! BRAVO!!

Janet said...

Congratulations to your son, Carmi! That's a beautiful photo, peaceful even.

Erin Nevicosi said...

Congratulations to you and your son!

Becoming an adult ... I think at various stages we have to start acting like one more and more, but most of us remain children on the inside all through our lives. At least I think that's how I'll always feel.

Joy T. said...

I am so glad I came over to finally get a Carmi fix and read down far enough to say congratulations to Zach and your entire family. What an incredible day for a young man. There is never any doubt in my mind when a child is this wonderful, there are always two loving and caring parents who are standing close by.

Terri said...

What a beautiful tribute to a very significant day in your son's life.
You have every reason to be proud, and I just want to add my good wishes to all the rest your son has received.
Wishing him a life filled with much love, compassion and insight. You and your wife have set the path for his journey. May it be a great one!