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bar/bat mitzvahs

This Is Why I’m Grateful for My Son’s Bar Mitzvah

Torah reading

20 minutes.

20 minutes is very little time. It’s not enough to find out how an episode of “Scandal” ends. It’s not enough to catch up with your friend between meetings and really get a sense of how things are going in her life. It’s not enough.

20 minutes is a lot of time. It can feel like hours if you are running in the cold before dawn and you can’t feel your fingers. It can feel like hours if you are waiting for news from your doctor that will make the difference in your quality of life for the foreseeable future. It’s so much more than enough.

“I want you to practice 20 minutes a day,” my son’s bar mitzvah tutor said.

Not so much time. And yet, so much time.

When I was in high school, I worked. My job was to be the Torah reader for the junior congregation at my synagogue. Every week, I learned three aliyot. And every Saturday, I read for their service. I thought I was doing it in order to make some cash. Now I know why I was really doing it: so that I could have and make the best use of these 20 minutes a day with my son.

For 20 minutes a day, I sit down with my 12-year-old son. He reads. I read. We read together.

“Wow—the first bar mitzvah!” people say to me, commenting on how amazing it is that the first of my six children will be meeting this milestone. “Where is it going to be?” I tell them, “The synagogue.” I’m not being snide—that’s actually where the Kiddush will be—but I’m also not being truthful. Because so much is actually happening right here, right now, in 20 minutes a day.

I’m so grateful for the gift of my son’s upcoming bar mitzvah. It has nothing to do with the party, or what we’ll wear, or who the caterer will be (though I really should get on all those things).

I’m grateful to have something in my life that makes me sit down for 20 minutes a day with my son.

I’m grateful to have a spot of time each day with him where the screaming of his little sisters, the ringing of the phone, the blaring of the television, and the siren call of the iPad are all persona non grata.

I’m grateful to see him as he is now, becoming a man, taking on responsibility and shouldering it, and working as hard as he can. I fall in love with him more every day.

I’m grateful for 20 minutes to sing words that my people have sung for generations before us. And hopefully, if I do my job right, the generations ahead of us will keep singing, together.


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