We all look forward to celebrations, but some occasions are more meaningful than others. Graduations from nursery, kindergarten, and even grade 8 are fun and exciting, but, quite honestly, how many children do we know of that have never reached the great feat of moving on to grade one?
As our children grow older, we look forward to their coming of age—the bar/bat mitzvah celebration. Great planning goes into every detail of what needs to be done. Simcha preparations, in many cases, make us lose sight of the significance of the actual milestone.
Throughout our married life, experience has taught us the importance of making the best of every moment and trying to find the silver lining in everything. Nina often expressed her concern that she never wanted any of our children to have to go through the challenges of bringing up a special needs child. Although we did it with our daughter Naama with smiles on our faces, we cried silently in our hearts for the tragedy that it was. Foolishly, by wishing and thinking that it should not happen, we thought that we could prevent it.
Every time one of our grandchildren was born Nina would privately do her own inspection, searching for any signs that perhaps this child was not okay. Each time they reached milestones she would breathe more easily. And then the morning came when Dena, our youngest child called Nina and told her that she suspected that there was something wrong with her son Zev. Together we tried to make light of it, assuring her that not every child reaches milestones on time and he might be slightly slow. However no one knows a child as well as its mother. Gradually we would hear more and more of Dena and Moshe’s suspicions that something was just not right about Zev. Of course, time moved on and their concerns were correct. Little Zev was becoming more of a challenge than the average parent anticipates. Once again, our family was being charged with an overwhelming responsibility.
What we had not taken into account was that Dena and Moshe were a couple that learned to cope together and share together in this overwhelming responsibility. They were going to move on and do whatever they could to normalize their family as much as possible. They were going to shower on Zev love and understanding in situations that at times were overwhelming. Together, as a unit, they were a shining light to us. They created four bright stars in our wonderful grandchildren and Zev in his own way shone the brightest. He has a special connection with Hakodesh Baruch Hu. He is forever asking to go to shul, knows the name of every rav in whatever shul he has ever attended, spends his spare time listening to the Miami Boys Choir, Yeshiva Boys Choir and every Jewish recording artist—he knows them all.
He has been anticipating his bar mitzvah which will be taking place this Shabbat with great excitement We have considered the pain which Dena and Moshe have to feel at times knowing that their son is not doing what most bar mitzvah boys do to prepare for their bar mitzvah. Not once have they expressed their sadness that Zev is not what they anticipated when he was born. They move on with smiles each day, and now their excitement has become contagious. We are all looking forward to this very special Shabbat. Zev will be the star for the entire weekend. We cannot wait to dance with him and take pride in the accomplishments that he and his parents have made. We learned a very long time ago that all that is important is for our children to reach their potential whatever it might be. Each child has his own path. The pureness and holiness of Zev’s soul has reached far beyond his family. We are sure that all of the malachim will be dancing with Zev celebrating his life and his official entrance to the Jewish community. He is our star.
By Dr. Mordechai and Nina Glick