emotional filled childhood events can become a life theme.
in preparation for my bar mitzvah, i participated in the temple’s youth choir. the choir was solely dedicated towards the saturday morning service known as shacharit. in the adult service, a choir member would be the lead with the choir backing up. choir members led on their bnei mitzvah.
i admired temple’s cantor who was one the choir organizers. a true role model: young, good looking, dynamic and kind.
my bar mitzvah approached and the bad news came. the cantor was not available for the service. no particular reason was given. the cantor emeritus, the very old and retired cantor, took his place. irrespective of the reason for the cantor’s absence, the moment hurt. an authority figure let me down.
this event always lingered in my psyche. those held in high regard can be disappointments.
betrayal again reared its head. my daughter’s bat mitzvah was approaching. this time, we were informed that both the cantor and the rabbi were not going to be present. deja vu all over again!
at that moment, i had no contingency plan. this betrayal was simply unbelievable. event preparation was the saving grace.
i felt so strongly about my children having a good training concerning their bnei mitzvah that i hired my old rabbi to teach them. they learned to conducting of the saturday morning services as well as being able to read both torah and haftorah. he spent two years weekly giving private lessons at our house. one year dedicated for each child. he had relationships with them. he considered them as the children he never had.
i asked him if my old rabbi if could come to the temple to preside over the service. he agreed. i actually got the temple to pay for his appearance.
with that, extended family was then recruited to participate in the service. a number of cousins provided torah reading along with son and myself. my daughter, along with the rabbi, co-conducted the entire service. i orchestrated with the comings and goings on the stage.
in the end, it was a huge success. the service was both complete and personal.
my highlight was the rabbi’s speech to my daughter. having known her from the womb and presiding her baby naming, the bat mizvah was a second milestone he shared with her. rather than a traditional speeches, the rabbi took the opportunity to mercilessly roast her in a loving fashion. the congregation was brought to tears and laughs. he truly attested to her maturation into adulthood.
in the end, second generation’s betrayal had a soft landing.
in sum, there are times when authority figures will disappoint. thus, always be self-reliant. build and maintain relationships. hopefully, my child understood, via the event, the value of being a problem solver.
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