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...