April 18, 2024
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After a B’nai Mitzvah Celebration, a Father Reflects

Recently, we celebrated the B’nai Mitzvah of our twin children Eli and Tara. There were several moments where the beauty, innocence and Jewish heritage of my children brought tears to my eyes and at times nearly took my breath away. And so, in an effort to at least for the moment put a hold on the inevitable stream of everyday, oftentimes mundane occurrences in life I have decided, while my children are at school and my wife is at work, to take the day off from my own work in order to sit back in front of a welcoming fireplace and reflect not only on this Jewish rite of passage but the past year as all the thinking, planning and decision-making crystallized from the illusionary “far-away stage” to the “oh my god, its here stage.”

Despite having experienced this journey three years ago with my oldest son Jordan, we were, in retrospect, unaware and unprepared for the intricacies involved in the decision-making surrounding the creation of a Bar and Bat Mitzvah at the same time. Maybe with two boys or two girls it would have been different. Maybe. Maybe not. But what I do know is that with a boy and a girl it was quite an experience.

And it wasn’t solely related to their distinct personality differences as much as it was their gender differences. Planning was seemingly a daily event requiring not just compromise from our children on an overabundance of issues but maximum patience from both my wife and me. From the larger decisions to the smaller decisions. From the most important to the least important. From decisions that had to be made one year ago to the next- to- last minute decisions. Decisions that, in retrospect, seemed much easier and less stressful for Jordan’s Bar Mitzvah than Eli and Tara’s B’nai Mitzvah.

But two things did remain constant throughout both events. We created a truly remarkable occasion and milestone for my children and shared an experience that can only be described by me as cloaked in a swirling haze. I ask myself now the same question I asked three years ago: how is it possible that after all the talking, planning, decision-making and excitement the entire process, particularly the three religious services and party, are now relegated to an occasion in life that appeared to be over the moment it began. An absolute fleeting moment in time shrouded in a mist of fresh memories.

So here I sit and attempt to grasp and hold on to all the lingering thoughts associated with this wonderful moment in time. However, as I do this I remind myself of other fleeting moments in time. For instance, Eli and Tara will soon be in high school. Where did the time go? And Jordan will soon be attending college. What? How is all this possible? Didn’t we only recently celebrate all their births with a baby naming and two brissim?

Yes, life as I know it is a clouded memory moving at an accelerated pace. A pace that leaves me dazed, mystified and at times panicky. If I could I would choose to slow the pace of life and sometimes secretly wish I could actually stop time to better enjoy these moments in time. However, I am aware the best I can do on this particular day is to sit back and simply reflect on what is. As I do this, I find myself immersed in a surge of emotions ranging from sadness to joy to nostalgia. As I am making my way through these emotions I find myself wishing there was one more Bar or Bat Mitzvah to look forward to. Just one more, I say to myself. Maybe that would help me through this. And then again maybe not. Instead, deep down, I know I have to move from this current mindset to a place where I once again embrace many of the future milestones that are on the horizon for my children including middle school graduations, high school graduations, driving permits and licenses, college acceptances and graduations, relationships, weddings and brissim and baby namings.

Yes, I know I need to emotionally move on. But for now, just for now, I listen to the sound of my inner voice and sit and stare at the fire and reflect, relive and bask in the after-glow of this remarkable B’nai Mitzvah. And I sigh, and begin to fill up with tears.

By Mark Wolman

Mark Wolman is a resident of Scotch Plains, NJ.

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