Q: When is a Bar Mitzvah like a baseball game?
A: When everyone tells you that it will be too long and too boring, yet it turns out to be one of the most amazing days of your life.
It’s interesting that both the prospect of my first baseball game and my first Bar Mitzvah evoked the same general response: I was risking coma or death from depths of unimaginable boredom (my worst fear after death, and who knows, maybe death is in fact boring, making two fears in one!) from attending either event. Yet baseball is our national pastime, and Bar Mitzvahs have been celebrated for hundreds, or possibly thousands of years, so there must be something to them.
As we know, attending the ball game saw the birth of Sporty Suzy, and while attending the Bar Mitzvah didn’t make me convert from confusion to Judaism, it was one of the most moving and beautiful days of my life.
The guest of honor (Bar Mitzvee?), Samuel, lost his father to cancer five years earlier, so he wasn’t there to see his son’s coming of age. But pretty much all the rest of Sam’s family were, having come from near and far and filling the synagogue with more love than I ever felt in one room at one time. At one time or another during the ceremony, every immediate family member participated and was on the stage with Sam, supporting him and sharing the experience.
After the ceremony, there was a lunch of breathtaking lavishness. It was all kosher, all delicious, and all, if you can believe this, prepared by Sam’s mother. For almost 150 people. It was exquisitely presented, too, with cornucopias filled with fruit carved like flowers and swathed with ivy and real flowers. Every dish was labelled, from the bagels and lox to the five different kinds of cake. So yeah, there was cake!
The most moving moment – of so many – was when Sam stood in front of the room and made a little speech about some of the people he is closest to and who helped to get him there. After each little piece about the person, Sam invited him/her to come up and place a flower in a vase beside him. The final flower was placed in the vase by Sam’s mother, who said, “This bouquet is Samuel. He is made up of all these people who love him.”