Bar mitzvah brings family together

By the time you read this column, Jack’s bar mitzvah will be over. No more sleepless nights playing musical chairs with seating charts. For more than a year now, I’ve been writing about this upcoming Jewish milestone in my son’s life. What am I going to talk about now — matza brei?

I’m not old enough to be the parent of a teenager, especially one who is wearing a designer suit, silk tie, and a beautiful tallis and yarmulke that his Aunt Cher needle-pointed especially for him in honor of his bar mitzvah. As my son stands at the pulpit and proudly holds the Torah scrolls, I’m in awe. He carefully follows the hand-scribed Hebrew text with a brand new ornate silver yad that his preschool friend Nicolette has given him just a few days before his bar mitzvah. At that moment, it’s a privilege to be a Jew, especially when you consider that the Torah was written 974 generations, or 2,000 years before the world was created.

The bar mitzvah journey, at least for me, is something that has brought me closer to Judaism. Every holiday becomes more meaningful. When my children ask the Four Questions at the Passover seder this year, they relive their Jewish history, much like at a bar mitzvah. Participating in the prayer service, reciting blessings over the Torah reading, and chanting the Haftarah, is something that I don’t take for granted anymore. It takes a lot of work for a 13-year-old boy or girl to become a bar or bat mitzvah. It also takes a lot of gas mileage getting to Hebrew school twice a week, but let’s not go there.

After my son gives his speech and thanks his mom and dad “for always being there” for him, I can’t help but think he really means it. Then again, the rabbi told him to say so. Seriously, the bar mitzvah brings us all closer to our family and our faith, and that’s what being Jewish is all about.

I never thought I would say this but I’m speechless at this point. Now is a good time for a silent meditation.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is obsessing over the leftover cookies and red yarmulkes from her son’s recent bar mitzvah, so please feel free to send any advice to: [email protected] or visit her website at