Bar and Bat Mitzvah gift suggestions at bestjewishkidsbooks.com.
tov to Mordechai Zev and Aviva Margolese, who were married yesterday.
It is rare and special to dance at the wedding of a couple who were both
recently widowed. And
mazal tov to Sophia Felson who is celebrating her entrance into the
Covenant (Bat Mitzvah) this week. May all of you enjoy much nachas in your new phase of life and give much nachas to your families!
When the rabbi made the first bracha under the chuppa, he pronounced the words, "boray pree ha-geffen."
Yosephi (7), sitting beside me, whispered to me, "Is it ha-geffen or ha-gaffen?"
He was pretty sure he'd heard his father pronounce the final word "ha-gafen". In fact, he has heard me say "ha-gafen" every Friday night for seven years - over 350 times! Not to mention holidays etc.
First question for your table: What do you think was my reply to Yosephi?
Answer: "Some people say ha-geffen and some people say ha-gaffen."
He thought about that for a minute, then observed, "People with long beards say ha-geffen, and people with short beards say ha-gaffen."
Which reminded me of Mr. Rosenthal.
Rosenthal lives in a nearby assisted living home where the kids and I
sometimes visit. He is 92 or so, and has vivid memories of fighting the
Japanese island-to-island across the Pacific.
A few months ago,
Mr. Rosenthal told me, "My father wanted me to go to yeshiva but I
didn't want to. I should have listened to him! Now it's probably too
late for me to learn anything."
Second question for your table: How did I respond to Mr. Rosenthal?
Obviously I told him it's never too late, but to start with small steps.
"What's an example of a small step?" he asked.
"Did you ever make a bracha? Like a ha-motzee? Or boray pree ha-gaffen?"
"Yes, I used to make those brachas. It's been many years, I think I still remember them."
the first small step you can take right now is to make a bracha on your
food before you eat it. It will give you a meaningful Jewish connection
without much effort."
"OK, I will. I'm going to try it."
My next step - give him a copy of my book, The Art of Amazement.
Remember that book? Do you know how often someone asks me a question
that is answered in the Art of Amazement? That's why I wrote the book,
to answer all your most basic questions about Judaism but were afraid to
ask. And if you already got them answered, to remind you of the
And if you know all the answers, so that you can share them with others.
As Hillel says, "If not now, when?"