Today is Chesed she b'Gevurah - a day of loving kindness in a week of strength.
This morning in minyan Forrest Benjamin celebrated his bar mitzvah. It was a warm and wonderful event, with an authenticity that is unique to having a minyan bar mitzvah.
B'nai mitzvah represent the transition from childhood to adulthood in Jewish ritual life. At that point, boys and girls are considered able to take part in full Jewish practice. That does mean getting an aliyah and learning to read Torah--something many people do once in their lives at their bar/bat mitvah and then never again. It isn't about the party--although I am certainly not one to downplay taking the opportunity to celebrate in every way.
Forrest got his aliyah and read Torah. But he will be back again. For along with the family and friends that showed up at 7 a.m. this morning to witness Forrest crossing that threshold were the regular minyanaires, people who have seen him grow into this role. For Karen, Forrest's mom, has been going to minyan for about 15 years. She was the first woman at Beth Sholom to take on the practice of wearing tefillin. And Forrest has been at minyan almost since conception. Karen came to minyan when she was pregnant; she breast fed Forrest at minyan. We watched his teeth come in, then out, then in again. He was part of the ark opening each Monday. He has been a constant these 13 years.
So today, with his family and community surrounding him almost literally as the chairs formed a horseshoe around the bimah, Forrest Benjamin became Bar Mitzvah, living the phrase, "l'dor v'dor" -- to the generations and through the generations. He embodied this day of loving kindness and strength.