The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Judah's Bar Mitzvah II

I am not often at a loss for words but it is simply hard to describe what I'm talking about here.

Last Shabbos was one of the most beautiful, emotional and spiritual Shabbasos I've ever spent. Davening where I do, I am used to spiritual and emotional Shabbasos but this was something else. It had little to do with the davening itself (although, the ba'al tefilah did have a beautiful voice and davened quite nicely).

Rather, it was the way everyone in the shul seemed to connect to and share the joy of the bar mitzvah boy, a boy who is not part of any of their immediate families but has worked his way into their hearts.

On Friday night after davening we had dinner in the shul social hall for the "insiders". The insiders included the three families of tzaddikim that have taken most responsibility for Judah in this community, Judah's "big brother" who has known him since he's five (and the big brother's wife, two small children, brother and parents), his current tutor, his most recent tutor (who flew in from Atlanta for the occasion), his current social worker at Ohel, his former social worker and her husband, another Ohel volunteer, my sister in law and her daughter (my brother was supposed to come but got sick on Friday), Judah's two brothers and their current foster/adoptive family, Judah's sister and her adoptive mother (who flew in from Houston) and the members of the MoC family who are not currently residing in Israel. We had a very lovely dinner with a few heartfelt speeches.

Shabbos morning completely blew me away. It was immediately clear how so many of the chevrah from the shul had connected to Judah. It seemed like everyone came over to him to shake his hand or give him a hug. Judah said the brachos for his aliyah, lained maftir and said the brachos for the haftorah. While this may not seem like a big deal, keep in mind that Judah has significant learning disabilities and has not been in Yeshivah for the past four years.

The Rabbi spoke absolutely beautifully before musaf and one could tell that he, too, had been touched by Judah's charm and inspired by his determination.

After kiddush we went back to the shul for a few speeches, each of which was sincere and moving. This was followed by a catered lunch, in which an amazing number of the shul's chevrah joined. There was a lot of singing and dancing a wonderful time was had by all, especially, and most importantly, by Judah.

Perhaps as significant as the beautiful simcha, MHW and I spent more than an hour after lunch speaking with a couple from the community that was seriously considering taking Judah into their home. Now THAT would be a simcha.

While I've tried to give a flavor of this special Shabbos, this is one of those instances where "you had to have been there" to really get it.

My bracha to Judah is that Hashem should bless him with what he needs; a home and a family, more than anything else.



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