The Sad Bar Mitzvah

The Sad Bar Mitzvah

My friend just made a bar mitzvah for her oldest son, where I had an opportunity to speak with the proud grandfather, Michelle, emotional to be celebrating the bar mitzvah of his oldest grandchild.

This is what he told me:

“I grew up in Egypt, so when I became bar mitzvah in 1954, it was a very dangerous time for Jews. Jews were being put in jail left and right–for no reason.

“So when I became bar mitzvah: the rabbi brought 6 of us 13-year-old boys together at the Maimonides Synagogue, where the Rambam prayed and learned in the 12th century. The rabbi said some things in Hebrew for a few minutes. I didn’t know Hebrew, so I didn’t understand what he was saying.

“And then the rabbi said, ‘Boys, now run straight home, no parties whatsoever! It’s far too dangerous!”

“Two years later, my father was jailed overnight, because he was Jewish. And the very next day, my entire family fled Egypt! We left behind all of our property, everything we owned. Like 900,000 Jews who fled Arab countries in fear. Nobody today knows about what we went through, all we lost.

“And I wonder,” he said, his eyes red with tears, gesturing towards the crowd dancing around his grandson, “I wonder…maybe it was Maimonides’ blessing? Or the fact that I was not able to celebrate my own bar mitzvah? Maybe this is why Hashem has blessed me so much! With so many grandchildren! So many bar mitzvahs– of dancing and singing and celebration, thank G-d!”

One comment

  1. Daniela Lowinger

    I wonder who this man is… maybe somebody known to my family.. a neighbor or even someone related to me, since my father was also thrown in an Egyptian jail at the same time, and we also left Egypt overnight with nothing more tha two suitcases per family. Yet, as this man, today we see our grandchildren recite the brachot and their portion of the parsha at their bar mitzvah and can only thank Hashem to have brought us to this day.

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