Jonah first time at our synagogue, Ramat Shalom – his Brit Milah
This weekend, my little boy, Jonah, becomes a Bar Mitzvah!
Jonah is truly a product of Ramat Shalom. We celebrated his Brit Milah at Ramat Shalom in July of 2003. He attended our Early Childhood Center and our Torah School and now takes his place on the bimah as he leads our Shabbat morning service tomorrow. It is a very special moment for me, Cheryl and Abigail and we hope that you and your family will join us at 10:00am. Your presence will mean the world to us.
Many of you remember that I used to lead Kabbalat Shabbat services with Jonah in my arms. As he got older, he and Abigail used to quietly play, read or snack while sitting in the congregation during services. At times, my kids, along with many of your kids, got in a little bit of “trouble” in the hallway as they attempted to escape from High Holiday services and hang out with their friends. This is all part of life for kids who are lucky enough to grow up in a synagogue.
As many of you know, I wasn’t so lucky. As a kid, I rarely set foot in a synagogue and when I did it seemed to be a very formal, scary place. I consider myself so fortunate that Cheryl and I have been able to raise both of our kids in the Ramat Shalom community – a place where our children are welcomed, embraced and loved – even when they make some noise in the hallway!
While we at Ramat Shalom pride ourselves on our fun, uplifting children’s services, I have always loved the fact that at Shabbat services, at Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services, our kids are there. When they’re really little, they’re sitting in our laps or on the floor. As they get older, they start to follow along – maybe taking a nap or a hallway break at times. And then suddenly, without much warning, they’re standing on the bimah becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in a sanctuary that is truly their spiritual home – a sacred and safe place in which they’ve literally grown up.
I hope you bring your kids tomorrow morning. I hope you bring your kids to High Holiday services (where Jonah will be reading Torah!). Yes, we offer babysitting and great programs for kids on many Friday nights and during the upcoming holidays. We’re even adding a special Young Children’s Service on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur mornings this year. But, please know that the best way to give your kids a Jewish foundation is to have them with us in the sanctuary. I say this not just as Ramat Shalom’s Rabbi, but as the dad of tomorrow’s Bar Mitzvah boy!