January 23, 2012
My Jewish Life
This past weekend marked the 3rd anniversary of my son’s Bar Mitzvah. In honor of the day, he was asked to read Torah at Temple. He accepted the invitation and for the past week I have been listening to him practice which has been lovely. It made me wonder, is my Jewish life enough?
When we went to shul on Saturday, I settled into my seat and watched as my son walked around the sanctuary and greeted his friends. When I saw him wearing his tallit and embracing his friends, I was overcome with emotion as I watched my son living his Jewish life.
My son is Jewish by birth, but also Jewish by choice. He has never been made to go to temple, but rather chooses it. I am in awe of myself when I think back to how I put him through 10 years of a private Jewish Day School education with no financial assistance from his dad.
My child’s education is a great accomplishment, and that he has found a level of Judaism that works for him, fills my heart with joy. That I was able to provide this for him is something that I still marvel at. This weekend was a reminder of how important faith is for our children.
I was in services for over two hours and my child knew every song and every prayer. I was so proud of him. While not surprising, yet mortifying to my son, I started crying. It was a profound moment in that it was as if God was telling me that I did a good job with the child in my care.
I am his mother, but he has been placed in my care. It is my responsibility to raise a decent human being who will make the world better, and this weekend I was given a front row seat that I am doing just that. He is a remarkable boy and the best part of my Jewish life.
I sometimes wonder if I am Jewish enough. Should I be more observant? Perhaps be Kosher? At the end of the day my faith is measured by my child. He is Jewish enough. He is following our faith, at his own pace, with pride and a thirst for knowledge. That is enough.
I have provided faith to my son in a way that he has embraced it. That was always my goal. I wanted him to be aware of our religion, the history of our people, and the desire to pass it along to his own family. I have done that and so I don’t need to worry about the choices he will make.
As we left services I asked my son if he wanted a new tallit. He told me he wanted to keep the one he got at his Bar Mitzvah until he passed it along to his son at his Bar Mitzvah. It was a lovely thing for him to say, and I cannot wait for that day. It will be a glorious day indeed.
If my son decides to become a Rabbi, or never go to shul again, my Jewish life will be the same. I have taught him my beliefs, provided him with an education steeped in knowledge and tradition. Who I am as a Jew, is separate from who he is. We can observe differently.
I read Torah every day, but my son does not. My son knows all the prayers and songs off by heart, but I do not. One is not a better Jew than the other. We are simply Jewish, living Jewish lives, and are blessed to be able to worship both together, apart, and differently.
My son is well on his way to becoming a man. He is truly a mensch. This weekend I was given an opportunity to see his Jewish life, and in doing so, was able to reconnect to my own Jewish life. What a blessing is it to see the child I love so much, keeping the faith.
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