August 18, 2005
Spy Kids’ Bar Mitzvah
It's not easy for a kid to find out that his parents are spies, and that he and his sister have to rescue them from evildoers.
But it's not as hard as trying to learn Hebrew from scratch in six months for a bar mitzvah -- especially when the spy scenario is fictional and the bar mitzvah is real.
So it was for Daryl Sabara, the cherubic red-headed star of three "Spy Kids" films. He and his twin brother, Evan, also an actor who appeared in "Spy Kids," were bar mitzvahed at Chabad of Brentwood last month after studying with the synagogue's rabbi, Baruch Hecht, for half a year.
As professional actors, it would have been a cinch for the Sabaras to memorize their Torah portion phonetically, just like many kids who don't know Hebrew. But the twins really wanted to learn Hebrew -- and about their heritage.
"Before this, they didn't know anything about Judaism," Hecht told The Journal. The rabbi talked to them about what it means to be a Jew, tefillin, the Torah and the Jewish holidays, like Purim and Passover, which occurred in March and May during their studies.
"Some kids, especially kids with a background of no real religious training, would say, 'Oh this is just a pain in the neck. Let's get to the party,'" Hecht said. "Their attitudes were exactly the opposite."
Daryl Sabara, in Northern California filming "Her Best Move," about a 15-year-old girl soccer prodigy, told The Journal by phone: "I didn't want to have a big party or anything. We just wanted it to be meaningful."
"Our portion was about the story of the red heifer. It's about somebody who is fortunate, and they try and give a helping hand. That's the way I [try to] live my life."