For most parents, preparing a child for a bar or bat mitzvah is just another of many coming-of-age stresses. But for parents whose children have special needs, the stress can be almost unbearable. Yet arranging b'nai mitzvah ceremonies for such children are not impossible, with a little love and support.
Margie Kommer, whose son, Max, was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), understands the loss of face some parents feel.
"It's very hard to go to a bar or bat mitzvah and see these shining stars, and see your own children struggling," she said.
And, naturally, children compare themselves to their peers. They can become so disheartened that they give up.
The rose-colored glasses often worn by couples headed for the bimah can easily hide some relationship blemishes. So when the glasses come off after the honeymoon, the new vision of the future can be a bit shocking.
No, you didn't have to leave New York to discover Jewish observance, but something had to plant the desire. In my case, it was my bar mitzvah.