Having a Commitment to Judiusm

January 19, 2010
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-So Justin, are you excited for your Bar Mitzvah?

-Uhm…kind of, it’s going to be a lot of work. I mumbled.

-Oh. Since you did well in class I’m going to give you a long torah portion because I think you can handle it. After that, all I heard was blah blah and I was just pretending to listen.


Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do but knew you were going to end up doing it because you had to? Well, that’s how it was when I had had a Bar Mitzvah. I was going to have to learn 5 new prayers. On some days it was like I had another hour of school, but I had to learn how to read a few paragraphs and I didn’t understand a word I was saying. So you can see why I wouldn’t want to do it.
For a week my torah portion was laying next to my bed and it didn’t even pass my mind to open and study it. After my first meeting with Mrs. Baker, who was my first Bar Mitzvah tutor as well as one of the religious school teachers, is when I started studying because I realized that I had too much work to hold it off. When I first started it was a big struggle. I remember sitting in my room stumbling over the same word again and again. Then I yelled down to my mom saying “I’m not going to have a Bar Mitzvah, I just want a party. This is too hard!” Eventually I was able to learn my lines very quickly. I found that some words repeated over and over as well as the tune.
The next couple of weeks seemed to repeat itself, and there was nothing new. After about two months I started studying with Cantor. With her I practiced my torah portion with a microphone so I would get used to using one. She also assigned me my Haftorah portion. It was only six small lines which took no time at all to learn. In a few weeks I was about ready to chant everything at my Bar Mitzvah, but I had a month left so I made sure everything was precise.
Finally the day had arrived – June 13, 2009. I was dressed up in a black suit with a white button-down shirt and tie. I arrived at the Temple early so I could get pictures taken. I felt like I was surrounded by paparazzi snapping pictures because I just won an award, except there wasn’t a crowd behind me. The camera man kept making me change positions so I was perfect. My cousins were the first to show up and they took pictures with me too. I kept on wondering when he was going to stop. Right be for the service started I had to chant a small prayer with all my family in the room. Then everyone else piled in and took a seat. My family was in the front of the Temple and my friends were in the back.
When the service started I was very nervous, my legs shook. As I looked into the crowd most of the people were paying attention, but others were texting or chatting with each other. I was slumped in my chair waiting to be called up by the rabbi to chant my first prayer. A second later he motioned for me to go up to the podium. I gathered my torah book and slowly trudged towards the podium with my grandfather’s talit (prayer shawl) hanging over my shoulders. All I heard was the light ‘click clack’ of my feet on the carpet floor. The audience’s eyes were on me. I couldn’t believe I was about to chant my first prayer. I knew it was going to eventually happen but I didn’t clue in that it was so close. I opened my prayer book which was marked with sticky notes so I could easily find my page. I grasped the microphone and tilted it so it was parallel with my mouth. The only upside to what I was about to do was that nobody was going to understand what I was about to say…and neither did I. I took a deep breath and held it for a second or two, making sure I knew how it started. Then the first word came out of my mouth, then another and another. I was chanting it perfectly and I didn’t even have to pause to think what I needed to say next because I had it all memorized. A few lines in, people who knew the prayer joined singing with me and that made it much easier. Three words before the end I felt totally relieved because I had just finished my first prayer and I didn’t mess up. I looked up from my book to see that everyone had been paying attention to me. I sat back down and then I remember that I had five more prayers to go and I wasn’t even close to being done. The rest of the service went well. The rabbi called me up for one last time. He presented me with a Kiddush cup and a certificate, which still to this day I haven’t touched.
I was glad that I had had a Bar Mitzvah and didn’t quit. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Even though it wasn’t much fun to prepare for it and I had a lot of prayers to memorize, it was a good choice I did it. My parents were also happy that I had chosen to do it and that meant a lot to me as well.





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patback12 said...
Jan. 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm
this is very incredible
 
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