Jewish Journal

My bar mitzvah

by Wyatt Isaacs

Posted on May. 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Wyatt Isaacs chants from the Torah during his bar mitzvah, above; and says holding the Torah, below, was like *holding my heart.*

You might recognize Wyatt Isaacs from the HBO documentary, "Autism: The Musical," which demonstrates how a group of children with autism -- a developmental disorder that affects social interaction and communication -- could exceed expectations by staging their own theatrical production.

In fact, Wyatt just recorded the song he wrote, "Sensitive," with actor Jack Black.

Wyatt also recently celebrated his bar mitzvah through Nes Gadol, a Vista Del Mar and The Miracle Project program that helps children with varying degrees of learning challenges become sons and daughters of the commandment. When The Journal talked with Wyatt last year, the prospect of facing an audience as he stood on the bimah intimidated him.

"Standing in front of all those people is going to be hard, because you have all those eyes on you," he said.

What follows are Wyatt's thoughts about his bar mitzvah as transcribed by his mother, Diane Isaacs.

On April 6, I had my bar mitzvah at Vista Del Mar.

When I walked into the sanctuary and saw all my family and friends, it felt different this time.

There were so many people -- I was excited. I always love walking into that holy room; I feel God. When I touch the Torah, it's like touching God's heart -- this was really big! So many people. And I was scared.

Then music made me calm. I sang the songs with everyone and it made me feel loved.

I wore my tallis, like a sheet of God; it was keeping me warm. There are a lot of different kinds of warm, but this one went into my heart -- it brought light inside ... I am trying to describe it but it is hard sometimes.

It was interesting to hold the Torah -- it felt like I was holding my heart. When I carried it up the aisles, and everyone was touching the Torah, they were touching my heart. I was amazed.

I had to sit and regenerate as I waited for my turn to chant and read the Torah. I studied very hard to be able to read the Torah without vowels.

I worried that I would mess up. When I take out my limits, I free myself and am no longer scared. I realized I could not make a mistake up there. Elaine held me, Kat was there with music and Cantor Steve supported me.

My heart was going really fast. It was saying one thing: "All you need is your heart's desire and love is what my heart wants."

My heart uplifted when the words came out. I chanted them and it felt easy on that day!

I realize that when people accomplish something really big, life is great. When I was reading the Torah, I went into another world. It was peaceful.

I know that getting things and receiving things are OK, but giving back to the world is better. I will always give things to others. If you get something, you give back.

I received a yad from my grandpa, a Kiddush cup and lots of presents -- and, most of all, I got a message: always live love.

You can always get presents, but discover the gifts inside that are already there. You don't need so many things. If I could give up wealthy belongings I would, but the tricky thing is that we live in America -- and America is things, things, things -- but life outside our midst of clouds is love. Most people miss it.

Even I miss it sometimes and get locked inside myself with all these outside things -- I put what I want first. Sometimes I forget about nature and I can't lose my love of nature. It is like the door gets shut and I open it. The door in my heart opened wider to God at the bimah that day.

When I walk into the sanctuary all my desires are put aside. They may not disappear, but I open my heart to God.

I can't believe my family and my best friends showed up to support me. It made me feel special. I felt very touched and happy inside when everyone came up to me afterward. Now that I am bar mitzvah, I feel like I am growing up. I may not be a man on the outside yet, but I feel closer to God.

When I think of that day I think of it as the best day of my 13-year-old life. I have many great times in my life. That is a highlight for me.

Last year, Nes Gadol hosted these two special needs b'nai mitzvah

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